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PETER'S COURT . . . . . . . , . . 9 


LOAVEU AND LOWBK .. .. .. ,. .. 15 


GOING TO THE GREEN FIELDS .. ' .. .. .. 22 


AN IMPROMPTV JOURNEY .. .. .. .. 32 


A GLIMPSE OF PARADISE . . . . . , . . 39 


AN ACCIDENT ., .. .. .. .. .. 49 




THE KING OF TERKORS .. .. .. .. 57 


FAINTING AWAY . . . . . . • ■ • • 65 




AT REST . . . . • • • • • • • • '8 






Peter's court. 

IT was a siglit that you might perhaps sometime see in a 
painting, only that painters do not care to represent scenes 
so low and miserable ; but you may never come in contact with 
it iu real life. The place was called Peter's Court, probably 
after the Christian name of its builder; and it lay in a densely 
poj)ulated part of London, somewhere between Oxford Street 
and the Strand. The locality was bad, for the poorest of 
people inhabited it, and the dwellings they had to live in were 

Turning out of a narrow street of shops into a still narrower 
thoroughfare, called Dart Street — which indeed could not be 
called a street except by courtesy — where might be seen some 
shops also, but very mean ones, and where the mud and the 
refuse, the children and the cabbage-stalks, lay thick on the 
ground, you came presently to Peter''s Court. Dart Street 
was generally in a crowded condition. Men and women stood 
about it perpetually : the men with short pipes in their 
mouths and often ugly words ; the women with hanging hair 
and shrill tongues ; and both with more rags on their backs 
than ilecent clothes. Some few among them were industrious 
and tidy— at least, as tidy as people could be in such a 


locality ; but the greater number of them were idle and im- 
provident, working to-day, playing and drinking to-morrow ; 
and a few did not attempt to work at all, but picked up a 
living how they could. But there are some places in London 
worse even than this, where the inhabitants are chiefly thieves 
and pickpockets : the people we are now speaking of must not 
be confounded with them. 

Some considerable way down Dart Street was a small arch- 
way, on the left-hand side : it was the entrance to Peter's 
Court. The court was not a thoroughfare ; its other end was 
blocked up with buildings. Its houses were high, overhang- 
ing tenements, built on each side the uneven pathway, and 
built so closely that their front walls seemed nearly to meet. 
Women, leaning out of the upper windows, could stretch 
their hands across, and nearly touch each other. The court- 
pathway was only a few feet in width ; and people traversing 
it must throw their necks backwards and look straight up- 
wards if they wanted to see the sky. 

Of the pure fresh air, given to us so freely by heaven, 
these houses in Peter's Court got none ; and yet they were all 
stuffed as fidl of human beings as they could hold ; for the 
rents were low, as compared with similar places. Peter's 
Coiu't had a name for low rents, and was tenanted accord- 
ingly. Few of the families rented more than one room ; some 
not as much, for they shared it with others : how full that 
one room often was, and how many people in all inhabited one 
of these houses, I should not like to say. As a matter of 
course, Peter's Court was never free from illness ; epidemics 
and other sickness did not quit it. It was simply impossible 
to be healthy there, and death was so frequcnit that it was not 
much thought of. 

The rooms were all front rooms ; for the houses, though 
high, were very narrow ; the back walls were built against 



other dead walls, and hud no windows and no openings ; 
consoquentlv the houses could not get a thorough draught 
through them from year's end to year's end. Wc think it is 
not well unless our windows are open all day and every day, 
to bring a change of fresh air into our dwellings ; what, then, 
must it have been for these poor people never to have any ! 
Tlie staircases were old and dirty, getting as little of cleaning 
as the houses did of air. For the slatternly women gave not 
their minds to the scouring of places that did not belong to 
anybody in particular, under which disadvantage the stairs 
laboured ; and if one, more complaisant or industrious than 
h(T neighbours, had thought to do it, she would not have 
known where to get the soap and Avater. 

As a rule, those who had lived all their lives in this or a 
similar locality, did not feel so very much the discomforts and 
the degradation. But those who had been accustomed to 
better things, and who had fallen into this position through 
misfortune or improvidence, felt it all too keenly. And there 
were some of these even in Peter's Court. 

One hot morning in July, when the sun seemed to shine 
through a haze of burning sultriness, and not a breath of 
wind could be met to fan people's faces, tingling with the heat, 
a number of children were playing, running, shouting, and 
skrieking in Dart Street. They were mostly only half clad, 
their wild hair fell around their pale, unwholesome, and 
dirty cheeks ; many of them had naked feet. Some belonged 
to Peter's Court, some to Dart Street ; but Dart Street was 
tlie g neral play place : the court lacked space for it. 

The game they had chosen was a strange one, not at all 
pleasant. They seemed to tind it so, however, for it was OTie 
they often played at ; and the shouts and laughter were just 
as eager as though it had called up the most delightful ideas. 
A child, boy or girl, stretched itself out as stiff as it could, shut 


its eyes, kept silence, and made believe to be dead. It was 
then borne aloft up Dart Street by as many hands as could find 
space to put themselves under it, and at a given signal was 
turned over into its grave — the mud of the gutter. Up it 
jumped then, and joined in the general shrieks and dancing 
that set in, as the whole lot ran back to the starting-point, 
the archway entrance to Peter's Court. 

' It's my turn to be dead ! it's my turn to be dead ! ' called 
out a little boy from amid the Babel of tongues. 

Upon which those nearest him gave him some pushes and 
blows. These untrained children conld but be rude and 

' Take Kat Tissen,'' cried out a voice. And the sugirestion 
appeared to please, for several others echoed it. So Kat 
Tissen was chosen. 

Numberless brown and dirty hands seized upon her, after 
a general fight for the honour, and l>ore her along. Those 
who were pushed out clustered up behind as followers, 
repeating their sing-song : 

' Kat Tissen 's sick and dead : 
Let's go and bury /mt.' 

It must seem quite an unnatural thing that any cliildren 
shoidd be capable of choosing so unpleasant a game as this — 
just as it did when the prisoners in the French Revolution 
used to play at that horrible play of mounting the scaffold, 
which so very many of them were soon to mount in reality. 
But these poor children were growing up almost without feel- 
ing, Peter's Court tending to deaden it. Of toys they had 

It must not be supposed that they could play at this 
game, or at any other recpiiring space and action, without 
impeiliment. Narrow Dart Street was too full of grown-up 
idlers for that^ — of lounging men and slatternly women. The 

1'eter's court. 1'3 

cliiklren had to make tlieir way amid them as best they could ; 
and they did it rudely, not caring whom they elbowed and 
pushed. TlK*y received in return a perpetual shower of abuse 
and hard blows, for which they cared a» little. 

Not mixing with the throng of players, but limping onwards 
a yard or two behind them by the aid of a crutch, came a 
little girl, who had just turned out of Peter's Court. Iler 
name was Bessy Wells, and sh(! had become lame from a fall 
when she was a very young child. She looked about ten or 
eleven years old, but she may have been more. She was small 
and slight for her years ; a pkasant-faced child, quite differ- 
ent in appearance fro-m the rest, for she was clean and tidy. 
Her frock and pinafore were of dark lilac print. She had a 
pale fncc, with a clear brown, skin ; bright soft brown eyes, 
that had a naturally-sad look in them ; and brown hair, put 
smoothly l)c]und lirr ears. When slio chose she could run 
fast, nearly as fa-st as the others, her crutch moving nimbly ; 
and it seemed that she kept behind now more from fear of 
being pushed al)out than from lack of speed. 

Kat Tissen was turned over into the nuid when she had 
been carried far enough, and the throng flew back along Dart 
Street as before. Bessy Wells drew herself ilat against the 
wall to let them pass, arwl then limped after them still keeping 
at a distance. The cliild felt the great need of companions, as 
all children do feci, and she had never had any but those as long 
as she could remember ; but she felt half afraid of them 
always, and was quite afraid of encountering their rough 

' There's Bessy Wells ! ' called out a big boy, who hnd put 
iiis back against the archway, his eyes happening to light 
upon Bessy, as she went cautiously up. ' Let's bury Bessy 

' Oh, no, no ; not me,' cried Bessy in an impidse of fear as 


she caught the words. * Please not me. I'm not really play- 
ing, you know, Jim ; I'm only watching.' 

A tremendous laugh answered her, and she was surrounded. 
Her wooden crutch was thrown aside ; she was lifted up in 
spite of her earnest pleadings to be let alone, and the pro- 
cession started again. 

' Bessy Wells is sick and dead : 
Let's go aud bury her' 

' You still your noise, Bessy Wells ; you be dead, you 

Over went Bessy into the water of the dirty gutter, just as 
roughly as those who had been Hung in it before her. It did 
not hurt her much — though it might have done — but it had 
wetted her frock and pinafore ; which, if old and nothing to 
boast of, had been at least dry. Her assailants rushed off, 
leaving her to get up alone : as she soon did. She could 
walk a little way without her crutch ; and she set oft" in search 
of it, holding by the houses now and then as she went along. 

Before she had gone many steps, a policeman, who had 
been striding quickly down Dart Street, overtook her. At 
sight of him the noisy fry had disappeared up Peter's Court, 
taking refuge in its nooks and doorways. Brought up to 
regard policemen as their natural enemies, and this one 
policeman as a very especial enemy, his face was never wel- 
come. He had a way of appearing in Dart Street, and in 
the coui-t also, without warning, and at aU kinds of unsea- 
sonalde times ; and he thought nothing of boxing their ears. 
For the matter of that, some of the men and women seemed 
not to care to see him either, for they disappeared Likewise. 

'What a uproar's a going on down here again, this morn- 
ing ! ' he began to Bessy, with nmch show of licrccness. 
'Why were you a screeching out like that in the gutter? 
What d'ye mean by it ? ' 

Peter's court. 15 

' Please, sir, it wasn't rae that screeched out in the gutter,' 
answered Bessy, with much awe ; but yet not altogether sorry 
to see him, for at least she was now not liable to be tossed a 
second time — and, as she knew, tlie very fact of her dreading 
it would have brought her a second edition. ' It was the 
others that shouted out, sir; they threw me down.' 

' What business had they to throw you down?' questioned 
the policeman as they walked on. He knew she was not fit 
for that rough kind of pastime. 

' It was in play, sir,' answered Bessy meekly. 

' Here's your crutch,' said he, picking it up for her out of 
the gutter, and shaking the wet from it. ' And the best 
thing you can do, Bessy Wells, is to stop in-doors out o' the 
way o' them young wild beasts. You'll get damaged by 'em 
some day if you don't.' 

'It is so duU, sir,' she said, rather piteously ; 'father's 
hardly ever at home. And, please sir, the doctor said I was 
to get out into the fresh air.' 

The policeman muttered something under his breath about 
the father, not at all in his favour; he knew Koger Wells of 
old. Stalking up Peter's Court, with a view of striking 
terror on the troublesome young crew hiding there, he went 
on slowly, turning his head from side to side; and Bessy, 
following behind, slipped into her home. 

Home ! 



BESSY'S home stood on the left hand, nearly at the end of 
Peter's Court. Up the rotten and dirty stairs she went, 


into one of the topmost rooms. And though these upper 
rooms had the advantage of somewhat more light and air- — 
for when the rickety casement window was propped open, a 
bit of the blue sky could be seen over the opposite roofs — 
they had also the disadvantage of receiving all the smells and 
the bad air from the rooms below. 

Eoger Wells had no business to be living in Peter's Court. 
That he was obliged to live in such a place, if he lived any- 
Avhere, was his own fault. He was an intelligent, capable 
man, and could have earned a very good living; but he had 
suffered himself to lapse by degrees into evil habits. He 
would be drinking and idling when he ought to be working ; 
and so, he came to rack and ruin. Nothing is more insidious 
than these interludes of idleness, this wasting of precious 
time. Easily and imperceptibly they gain upon us, and grow 
into a habit all too soon ; and in most cases the habit becomes 
fixed. It was the case with Roger Wells. 

In vain his wife, a thoughtful, good, superior woman, had 
besought him in past years to amend his ways before it was 
too late. He was well-intentioned then, and Avould listen, 
and make promises ; but it was only for the moment. Before 
Bessy was quite two years old, their home, a very nice one, 
was broken up. Other homes were tried in succession, one 
after another, each one being lower in the scale of civilization 
than the last, arid Boger Wells getting lower and lower witli 
them. At 1( iigth he brought his wife and Bessy to Peter's 
Coiu-t. It w;is the worst degradation of all, and the wife felt 
it bitt(M-ly. B)ut she strove to be ever a good wife to him ; 
to bear all patiently. 

Mrs Wells had been brnuglit up well and respectably. 
Her f\tli('r was clerk in a country church, ati intellectual man 
who took care of his children. Slie went into service in the 
Squire's family, and left it to marry Piogcr Wells. That was 



the ^yorst day's work she ever did ; but, as she woiihl silently 
ask herself in later life, after all the evil had come, how was 
she to foresee that Rog-er would turn out as he did. She had 
come to London with the Squire's family, and met him there, 
lie was an upright, good-looking, steady young man then, 
earning a good living, and everybody thought she did well 
when she married him. Soon bad eompanions laid hold of 
him, and he was weak enough to allow himself to fall into 
their improvident ways. After that, it went on from bad to 
worse ; from poorer lodgings to poorer ; and at last they wore 
reduced to Peter's Court. Had Mrs Wells seen that court in 
a panorama, when she was in her country home in early life, 
she would not have believed it possible for human beings to 
exist there. 

Soon after they removed to Peter's Court ]\Irs "Wells had a 
bad attack of rheumatic fever. It settled in her limbs, and 
she was never able to make much use of her hands afterwards, 
or to walk without difficulty. So that, during the several 
years of her remaining life, though she could manage to creep 
out to Dart Street to get in necessaries from the small shops 
there, she did not venture farther ; and it was a positive fact 
that Bessy at the present time had never been half a mile 
away from her home in any direction; indeed she could not 
remember to have gone much beyond Dart Street. In that 
miserable home in Peter's Court poor Mrs Wells had lived ; 
always patient, always enduring, and always hoping for 
brighter days. She went on hoping for them until she died ; 
at least until within a week or two of it : without that hope 
to buoy her heart up, she might have died earlier. It was 
about six months ago now ; and since then poor Bossy had 
been manager of their one room, and of the scanty daily 
meals (when they got a meal), in her mother's place. 

Perhaps the incapability of moving about nmch, aided Mrs 


Wells's natural instincts to keep herself and Bessy aloof from 
the people amid whom they were thrown. Day after day, 
week after week, year after year, mother and child confined 
themselves within those four small walls, the door closely 
shut, the window open. On the days that Mrs WeUs had 
the money (it was not always) to go out to get a loaf of 
bread, or a morsel of tea and sugar, or a drop of milk, or 
perhaps the unusual dainty of a red herring, she rarely took 
Bessy with her. When the child was younger there was a 
difiiculty in getting her up and down stairs on account of her 
lameness, and Mrs Wells could not carry her. So that one 
top room, with the glimpse of the blue sky over the opposite 
roofs, was essentially the child's home, nearly all she knew of 
the world. She would sit near the open window listening to 
the children playing and shouting below, and often wish to 
be with them, playing too ; but then some dreadful quaiTel 
would be sure to take place, either amid the children or 
the grown-up people, sometimes a fight ; and Bessy woidd 
run away from the window to hide her head, and feel glad 
that she was not there. 

Bessy was brought up very differently from those other 
children. Her mother, unable to do anything to earn a 
living, had full leisure to attend to Bessy. When the poor 
wife tried to do a bit of sewing, her crippled and nearly use- 
less fingers would be half a day accomplishing what other 
women could do in an hour. 

She taught Bessy all she knew herself — to read and write, 
to spell, to sew; above all, she taught her about God. 
When Bessy was little she had to lie down a great deal, in 
the bed or on it ; sometimes for a week together she would 
never be up ; and her mother would sit by her bedside and 
tell her all about heaven. Every day the mother read to her 
out of the little Testament; when Bessy was old enough she 


read it for herself. It had to be kept in Mrs Wells's pocket, 
lest Roger should see it and pledge it. Any small thing of 
that sort that he could make a few halfpence on he was sure 
to take. Some other books, that had been the mother's when 
she was young, were kept openly, for they were too old — the 
covers of them mostly torn — to be of use to him. They 
were all what are called religious tales, and were written by 
Mrs Sherwood or ]\Irs Cameron. One of these books most 
especially interested Bessy ; it was called, ' Mrs Propriety 
and her Little Scholars,' a story about a village school and 
the various doings of the little pupils. Bessy read that book 
over and over and over again ; even when she coidd have 
repeated it by heart, nearly line for line, she never tired of 
reading it. Poor little girl ! in all the world she had but 
these books to give her pleasure ; no toys, no playthings of 
any kind ; and in regard to the world she was as ignorant as 
a baby. 

So there they had lived. In Peter's Court, but not of it ; 
for Bessy was indeed different, and taught to be different, 
from those around her. Many a little lady is not brought up, 
in regard to teaching and training, more carefully than was 
Bessy. Some relatives of Mrs "Wells, who lived far away, 
nearly at one end of England, would now and then send her 
a little money privately ; it had enabled her to keep Bessj 
tolerably well off for clothes, and to provide some few other 
things that she did not see how they could have done without. 
So that, in some respects, they were somewhat better oft" than 
their neighbours. 

The only person they saw, as a regular visitor, was Jenny, 
the Bible woman. Some one or other of the women tenant- 
ing the same house would look in occasionally, especially after 
tlie time that j\Irs Wells became so weak as to take to her 
bed ; but as a rule they had only Jenny. Jenny would talk 



to Mrs Wells of heaven — everybody knew tliat she was very 
soon going to it — ^just as Mrs Wells talked to Bessy of it ; 
and Bessy would sit on the floor listening to what they said, 
her pretty, sad, dark eyes cast np to them, her small thin 
hands folded on her pinafore in silence. But, in spite of all 
the listenings, and readings, and teachings, Bessy's ideas of 
heaven were just as vague as they could well be. She was 
apt to associate it with a lovely garden she once saw in a 
picture ; she thought it must be filled with sunshine and 
flowers — with sweet music to listen to, and sweetmeats to eat. 
Sunshine, and flowers, and music (save some rare street 
organ straying into Peter''s- Court) were things far apart from 
Bessy's life : of SAveetmeats she got none, or indeed of much 
else in the shape of eatables. Eoger Wells did not trouble 
himself to do more work than would pay for the ale he chose 
to drink, and just keep the wolf from the door. He was bad 
enough, but there are some husbands worse than even he. He 
did care for his wife and cbild ; he did not want them to 
starve. Often he wished they were better off, often resolved 
that they should be ; and perhaps for a day or two he woidd 
stick well to his work ; but the example of other idle men was 
stronger than his resolution, and he would fall away again. 

After the mother's death, which took place in winter, Bessy 
found the room too lonely ; and the poor little lame girl 
would steal down-stairs and out of doors for companionship. 
During the time that her mother lay ill — which was only for 
some two or three weeks before her death — it was Bessy who 
did the errands ; and by these means she became more familiar 
Avith the life outside, the uncivilised people and the rude 
children. But any scene of unusual turmoil, any loud quarrel 
or fight, would drive her back to her room again. The 
child's condition was to be pitied ; she instinctively dreaded 
*ind shrunk from the low life around her, but she could not 



well bear the solitariness of tliat cbaiiiber now that her mother 
was no lonp:cr in it. Thoiig-h weak, and small in frame, and 
tliongh so utterly inexperienced in the Avorld and worldly 
things, Bessy Wells was in mind and Ihought older than her 

Her mother had trained her to industrious and tidy ways, 
so far as tlie ehild's strength allowed ; liad taught her to cook 
and clean, and to keep her clothes in order. If, indeed, such 
cookiivg as they could ailbrd could be worthy of the name ; 
a herring, toasted before the fire in the small Dutch oven, or 
a slice of bacon, or a couple of sausages ; and potatoes boiled 
in the old saucepan. Ikssy's lameness did not hinder her 
from scouring the floor, but she often had to do it with plain 
water, for lack of the halfpence to buy soap or soda. And of 
water there was none too much : Peter's Court had but a miser- 
able supply of it. She darned her stockings and patched her 
clothes, and kept herself as neat as those poor clothes per- 
mitted ; but in that respect, as in many other respects, she 
was better off than the general ragamuffins outside. Eoger 
Wells had been rather more steady since his wife's death, for 
he was fond of his little daughter and did not quite neglect 

When Bessy came up-stairs on this day, after the police- 
man had passed on to the end of the court, it was past eleven, 
nearly time to be getting dinner ready. She sat down on her 
low wooden stool for a minute or two, rubbed her left arm, 
which had been a little bruised in the fall, hung her pinafore 
up to dry on a piece of string that was stretched across a 
corner of the room, and strove to wring the wet out of her 
poor frock. Her little mattress, almost too short and narrow 
for her now, was in the opposite corner : the bed on the other 
side, that used to be her mother's, was rolled up during the 
day. Two chairs, with the backs broken off ; a small round 


table, that Wells had to nail and tinker up perpetually ; an 
old wooden box, that their clothes were kept in ; and an 
earthenware pan, for the bread and other food ; these com- 
prised the chief articles of the apartment. On a shelf against 
the wall stood two or three plates and cups ; some coal, and 
part of a bundle of wood, lay in a straw basket against the 
fireplace. And this was quite a grand and comfortable room 
compared with most of the rooms in Peter's Court; almost a 
palace beside them, as to its furniture and conveniences. 



BESSY "VYELLS took a few of these bits of wood, some 
nobs of coal, and a piece of a newspaper, laid the fire 
with them, and set it alight. Roger Wells must bring home 
his weekly newspaper, and when he had done with it, it was 
at Bessy's service to tear up for the fire. While the sticks 
and coal were burning up, she took some potatoes out of 
the earthenware pan and scraped them. New potatoes, 
Bessy had bought that morning for the first time, when 
she went out after breakfast to do her marketing; but the 
old ones were getting too bad to be used. We may be 
quite sure that the best potatoes, whether old or new, did 
not find their way to Dart Street. Bessy had not forgotten 
that her mother used to make it a kind of fete day when they 
first had new potatoes, and invariably contrived to add some 
delicacy to them. Bessy had done the same to-day : she 
strove to follow all her mother's ways and precepts as closely 
as she could ; and she had brought home two sausages. When 


the clock struck twelve, the potatoes were nearly done, and 
the sausages were frizzling in the Dutch oven. With a very 
small fire, such as this, cooking takes longer than with our 
large ones. 

' Now, if father would but just come ! ' thought the child, 
as she put the plates on the table. ' What a thing it would 
be if he did not come home at all to-day ! 

For there were dinner-times that did not bring Roger 
Wells. And on those days, as Bessy had long ago learnt to 
notice, he was sure to make his appearance at night with a 
Hushed face and thick voice ; oftener than not, with unsteady 

To-day she was not to be disappointed. Hardly had the 
thought passed through her mind when the door opened, and 
he came in. A short, spare man with a greyish look in his 
fcice ; a face that was once so pleasant ; good features, a fair 
complexion, and thin lips. He took oif his fustian coat, and 
seemed to have been hard at work. In his hand he brought 
in a pewter pint measure full of porter. 

' Halloa ! new potatoes ! ' he exclaimed, as Bessy turned 
the contents of the small tin saucepan into a plate. It was 
as much as her two hands could accomplish : tliey were not 
as strong as other people's. 

'The old ones won't do any longer, father, and these are 
the cheapest in the end : so much of them had to be cut away. 
I've got some sausages to eat with them.' 

' There's my good little girl ! ' said he. 

The sausages were put on the potatoes, and the few drops 
of fat in the Dutch-oven turned over all. A dinner, in Bessy's 
estimation, fit for a prince. Roger AVells sat down to it. 
Bessy began to dry the saucepan. 

' Come along, child. Don't stay there.' 

* Just leave a potato for me, father. It'll do.' 


He put some of tlie potatoes and the best part of a sausage 
on lier plate, and bade ber come tben to her dinner. Some 
of tbe children outside had terribly harsh and cruel fathers, 
but Eoger Wells was never harsh to Bessy. He would have 
liked her — oh, how greatly ! — to possess every comfort and to 
live in a better place than Petei-'s Court. And this might 
have come to pass had he chosen to be more industrious him- 
self, and less self-indulgent. 

' What brings your frock in that state ? ' he asked, as she 
sat down on the floor with the plate on her lap, and began to 
eat w4th her fingers. And this was not from any slovenly 
habit. Poor Bessy had been unable for years when she was 
younger to sit at a table, and her mother had allowed her to 
eat in this way, as it was the easiest to her. Not but that 
she could use a knife and fork now ; and she sat or stood at 
the table sometimes. ■ ' It looks as if it had been all in a wet 
mess,' continued Roger Wells, regarding the frock more 

' They threw me into the gutter, father.' 

' Who did ? ' 

' Some of them outside. It was only done in play.' 

She did not give any names, you observe. She was eager 
to add that it was ' only done in play.' Bessy Wells was 
naturally kind, and her mother had taught her to strive ever to 
be so. I think it is only in great adversity that we acquire that 
true loving-kindness to our fuUow-creatures which is so great 
a boon. 

Moreover, in so speaking, Bessy had another motive. 
Once or twice, when it had come to Roger Wells's knowledge 
that some swarm or other of the street children hud been 
rough with his little afflicted girl, he had gone out and pom- 
melled them soundly, which had brought forth no end of 
general quarrelling and disturbance with the parents. And 


tliat distressed and frightened Bessy. She was strangely 

' You'd do well to keep out of their reaeh,' said he, 
alluding to the children. ' They be a bad, rude lot.' 

' It is so lonely up here, father, now mother's gone.' 

'You've told me that afore,' he said fretfully, for his 
conscience warned him that he might be at home with her 
more than he was — only, you see, there were the attractions 
of the public-house. ' You needn't mix yourself up with 
their rough play. If you'd just sit quiet on a door-step out 
there, they'd let you alone fast enough.' 

' I wish we had a green field here, father, with buttercups 
and daisies in it.' 

Roger Wells, turning the half of his hist potato round and 
round his plate, to catch up any particle of fat that might yet 
linger there, let it rest on the end of his fork while he turned 
his eyes on Bessy. 

' What has put that into your head ? ' he asked. ' A 
green field ? ' 

' Ann and Beeca Simmet told me this morning, father, 
when I was there buyiug the potatoes : they went out yester- 
day in a van, a great many of them, and ran about the fields 
all day. I should like to sit in the green fields. IMother 
used to talk about the buttercups and daisies, and the blue- 
bells and the pink clover/ 

' You shall go some time,' said he. 

'Please, father. Just for once. If I could see them 
only once, I should always have them to think of. I wish 
there was a field near enough for me to get to it. Mother 
said some of the hedges were all of sweet-smelling leaves 
called sweetbriar, with pink and white roses growing out of 
it that anybody might pick.' 

In truth he would have been glad for the child to be near 


SO open and healthy a place as a green field, that she might 
sit in it to inhale the fresh and pnre air. Since her mother 
died, he had twice taken Bessy to the dispensary doctor, just 
out of Dart Street. The doctor told him that fresh air was 
essential for her and might prolong hei life, but that in any 
case he thought she Avould not live very long. Poor Bessy 
was often in pain, and always wan and weak. An idea 
began floating through the mind of Roger Wells, now as 
Bessy spoke, that he would take her himself, ' one of these 
days,' to some green field or other beyond London, and let 
her enjoy herself in it for a few hours. His instincts for the 
child were always good, but he very rarely can'ied them out. 

' We'll see about the green field some day, Bessy,' he 
said. ' You go out and sit on a door-step this hot Aveather, 
and get what air you can. And mind you keep yourself 
away from them other rough ones,' he added, putting on his 
coat to take his departure. ' They'll leave you alone if you 
take no notice of 'em. If they don't, just tell me — that's all.' 

' Shall you come in at six, father,' she asked timidly. 

' Oh I shall come in,' he answered, shutting the door after 
him, and going down-stairs. But, as Bessy knew, he was 
just as likely not to come in ; he rarely did. And if he did 
come in at six once in a way when the working hours were 
over, he was sure to go out again. 

She put the room to rights, and then sat down to her 
work ; some garment or other that wanted a patch npon it. 
At five o'clock the child cut herself a slice of bread and 
drank some milk and water. Then she took up one of her 
most precious store of books : it was ' Mrs Propriety.' The 
time went by ; six o'clock struck, and she read on still, partly 
listening for her father's step on the stairs all the while. 

But she listened in vain. Six o'clock had long passed. 


and seven struck. The little girl, tired of waiting and 
listening, went down. 

Dart Street was swanning as she turned into it. It was 
the time when the men, women, and children all seemed to 
congregate there. Their close dens of rooms were always 
closer and hotter towards evening, and they instinctively 
turned out of them. Dart Street had not nuich fresh air, 
but the rooms had less. 

The houses were built Irregularly. Some of them had 
steps to their doors, some had none ; on the contrary, you 
hatl to dive down an incline to enter them. On the opposite 
side to the archway, a little higher up, was a low old house 
with a sloping roof and gable windows, so low that a good 
glimpse of the sky could be seen above it. Bessy used to 
fancy that the air was less heavy when she stood opposite 
that low house, and would often remain there a little while 
leaning on her crutch. She could not sit there, for the house 
that faced it had too high a doorstep to admit of her sitting 
down upon it. Many a little child had pitched off that high 
stone step, which slanted downwards, and damaged its nose. 
The nearer houses on either side it had not steps at all, 
affording no resting-place for tired Bessy. 

But there were dooi-steps in plenty higher up ; and Bessy 
was quickly threading her way through the throng towards 
one, when she chanced to place her cnitch upon a man's foot, 
who had no upper leather, to speak of, to his shoe. He 
swore at her, and raved out many hard and \igly words ; and 
she hastened on shivering, past all the doorsteps. 

She came to an anchor by the small greengrocery shed : 
Simmett's. The greengrocer's two girls stood at the door, 
and Bessy sat herself flat on the pavement by them, hoping to 
hear more about the green fields that had laid so "reat a hold 


on her iraag-ination. The girls talked freely : the previous 
day's unusual pleasure was yet fresh in their minds. 

' We be agoing again to-morrow,' suddenly announced 
Ann Simmett. 

The words caused a flutter in Bessy's heart. Going again 
to-moiTOw ! To those beautiful green fields ! 

' Could you let me go too ? ' she questioned, very timidly, 

' I'll ask mother,' replied Ann, a good-natured girl about 
Bessy's age. And she turned to run past the two or three 
small heaps of potatoes, to where Mrs Simmett stood at the 
back of the shed amid the store of coal, gossiping with some 
other women. 

Mother, can Bessy Wells go along with us in the van 
to-morrow ? ' 

' What ? ' demanded Mrs Simmett, when the question 
had been called out to her for the fourth time. 

' Bessy Wells wants to know if she can go along with us 
to the green fields to-morrow ? ' repeated Ann. 

' Thei-e ; be off,' answered Mrs Simmett, a great deal too 
busy with her talking to like the interruption. ' Bessy Wells 
can go if you go. Don't bother.' 

Every word of the answer had come with a cleaa* sound 
to Bessy's ear, through the small shed, and her heart gave a 
wild leap of joy and hope. Children are not given to be 
doubtful ; they believe implicitly. Where, indeed, they have 
learnt by sad ex.pericn.ce that their parents are not trust- 
worthy, it may be different ; but Bessy's experience did not 
lie in doubt, for her mother had never misled her by a single 
word. Poor Bessy, hearing ]\Irs Simmett's answer, as much 
thought her trip to the green fields was assured for the mor- 
row, as that she should go back presently to Peter's Court for 
the night 

A few tumultuous questions, arising out of the fulness of 


her bcatiiiu; lioart, licr tliouLilitfiil iniiid, al)o\it the hour of 
starting, ami sucli-like, which Ann and Ikcca Simmett an- 
swered in acconhmce with their own ideas — and Bessy went 
home. The clock was tellin<^ eight. Her father had not 
come in. Nine o'clock struck, and ten struck ; and still he 
did not come. It was no new experience in the life of the 
lonely cliild. She knelt down to say her prayers, got into 
bed, and fell asleep repeating her favourite hymn. 

x\t breakfast next morning — which consisted of bread with 
some bought dripping, and weak tea — Bessy told her father 
of the day's pleasure in store. Mrs Simmett and others, with 
Ann and iU'cca, were going to the green fields again, and they 
would take her if she might be allowed to go. Might she ? 

' Who says they be going again ? ' asked Roger Wells, 
rather struck with the fact that the Simmetts shoidd be taking 
a holiday two days running — or nearly miming. 

Bessy answered eagerly. Every word the two girls had 
spoken of the anticipated pleasure she repeated to her father, 
adding that Mrs Simmett herself had said she might go with 
tl^cm. And Roger Wells, knowing Bessy's implicit truthful- 
ness, and never suspecting that the child was herself deceived, 
gave her the necessary permission. Simmett and his wife 
were both respectable in their way, rather above the ordinary 
inhabitants of Dart Street, and he knew that if Mrs Simmett 
took Bessy she would take care of her, 

' It's tine to be them ! — a going out twice-over in one 
week ! ' remarked he. ' And they be not folks given to gad 
about in general : Simmett and she stick to their shed. Who 
else is going, Bessy ? ' 

' I don't know, father. They are to have the same van, 
Becca said, and it holds a good many.' 

' What time do they start ? ' 

' Ann Simmett said she thought it was to be eleven 


o'clock, but she'd ran in this morning and tell me for sure. 
Oh, father ! what a happy day it is going to be ! ' 

Wells, just then drinking a draught of his weak tea, 
glanced at Bessy over the teacup. Her soft eyes were shin- 
ing with a joyous light ; her pale cheeks had caught a faint 
pink glow. 

' Well, child, you must take care of yourself.' 

' Oh, yes,' answered Bessy. * And, father, I'll put your 
dinner all ready first, if you'll please to give me a little 
money to buy it.' 

'I shan't come home to dinner to-day, I'll get some 
bread and cheese out,' said Wells hastily ; for he had no 
money to give Bessy, not even a penny piece, it had been all 
spent at the public-house the previous night. ' Good-bye, 
Bessy. And mind you don't get running about too much, 
or you'll be laid up again. Sit down quietly in the grass.' 

' I'll be sure to mind, father.' 

Kissing her — a rather unusual thing for him to do — he 
went out. Had he chanced to pass the greengrocery shed he 
would no doubt have halted to say a word or two about the 
day's excursion ; but his road to work — and he really was at 
work this morning — led him in the contrary direction. 

What a flutter of delight Bessy was in ! The sky was 
blue, as she could see from her Avindow ; the sun was hot. 
The breakfast things washed up, and all things put in order, 
she changed her old frock for her best : one that Jenny, the 
Bible-woman, luul got made for her out of a black gown which 
came up from the country to her mother just before she died ; 
and which had neither a patch nor a hole in it, but was very 
nice in Bessy's eyes. Her black straw bonnet, made ready 
for her mother's funeral, just as the black frock had been, was 
as good as new. After all the preparation, Bessy had not 
gone to the funeral : it had been a bitterly cold, snowy day. 


and the child was not well cno\ifi;h to encounter it. The bonnet 
had scarcely been upon her head, but had remained in the box 
done up in paper. It was not much the fashion in Peter's 
Court to wear bonnets : possibly because Peter's Court much 
lacked bonnets to wear. 

Perhaps, considering his habits, some credit was due to 
Eoger Wells for havinj^ allowed tliese thino^s to lie intact. 
Certain it was, that though he could have disposed of them for 
a fair sum of money, he had not attempted to do it. We 
estimate things by comparison, you know; and it would have 
really been a fair sum compared with the general supply in 
his pockets. 

Her hair smooth, her face fresh and clean, the bonnet on 
and the black frock, with the little cape that belonged to the 
frock, Bessy was ready. But it was only ten o'clock then, 
and she sat down to wait, a white pocket-handkerchief that 
had been her mother's lying ready on the table beside her. 

Eleven o'clock came ; she heard it strike out from the 
church. Twelve came ; but no Ann Simmett came. Bessy 
had been inured to patience all her life, and had sat patiently 
now while she waited, but she began to think something must 
be the matter. Taking her crutch, and hoping to find them 
all just starting, she went down to see, darts of fear striking 
through her all the way. What if they had started and for- 
gotten her ? 

Her appearance in this trim — the bonnet on her head, the 
decent frock and cape, and her mother's white handkerchief 
folded in her hand — caused no end of a commotion. All the 
boys and girls, out at that hour, collected about her to attend 
her up Dart Street, making many rude inquiries and disparag- 
ing remarks. Poor Bessy, sensitive to a fault, was hot and 
trembling by the time she reached Mrs Simmett's. 




BESSY did not meet any one connected witli the promised 
expedition, till she came upon Ann Simmett ; who was 
playing at ' Catch me who can ' with a heap of others, splash- 
ing through the wet of the broad gutter and the street refuse. 
Her dirty pinafore was in rags, her shoes had the toes sticking 
out, her hair was matted, her face dirty. Evidently she was 
not smartened up to go off pleasuring to the fields in a van. 
Bessy's heart sank within her. 

' Oh, it was all a flam ; mother had only said it to get rid 
of them because they bothered her; they were not going 
again to the fields at all afore next year,' carelessly called out 
Ann Simmett, in answer to Bessy's scarcely-breathed word of 
inquiry. And Bessy in her bitter disappointment, after a 
minute's pause to credit the news, burst into tears. 

' Why, bless me, is th» girl a taking it to heart like that ? ' 
exclaimed Mrs Simmett from the door of the shed, where she 
stood listening and regarding Bessy. ' And to dress your- 
self up in that fashion ! — a bonnet, and all ! What a goose 
you must be, Bessy Wells ! ' 

' I — if you please, it was tlie thought of seeing the green 
fields,' meekly stammered Ikssy, feelingashamedof herself for 
crying, and trying to dry her eyes. ' Mother used to tell 
tne about them.' 

The hard, coarse life, that the people living in these miser- 
able districts of necessity lead, tends to deaden tlie feelings. 
But a gleam of pity did float into Mrs Simraett's mind then ; 
nay, of sympathy ; for she remembered flie early time wlien 
she had loved green fields herself. Perhaps it was called up 


by the grievous look of disappointment on Bessy's wan face, 
or perhaps by the allusion to her dead mother. 

' Why don't you 2;o and see tlie green fields, child ? ' she 
asked. ' Do you mean to say you've never seen any ? ' 

' No, ma'am ; never.' 

' Well, you can soon see 'em. There's j^rass enough 
within reach, without junketing off in pleasure-vans to get to 
it. Go to one o' the grand parks. It's not over far — close 
by, so to say.' 

' And — are flowers there too ; buttercups and daisies ? ' 
asked Bessy. 

' Why, the grass is full of 'era, child ; and there's better 
flowers than that on the beds around — roses and lilies, and 
all kinds o' beautiful sorts. And there's grand ladies and 
gentlemen a riding up and down there in their carriages.' 

A woman, standing just inside the shed, picking potatoes 
out of a bin, had paused in her occupation, and turned round 
to look at Bessy. 

' Have that there chihl never seen no fields ? ' she ex- 
claimed in an accent of surprise. 

' Well, I suppose not,' said Mrs Simmett, lowering her 
voice to answer. ' What with her own lame leg, and what 
with her mother's rheumatis, which made her no better nor a 
cripple, the child has never, as I b'lieve, been out o' this 
precious, close, smoky place. One can't wonder that she 
wants to look a bit about her elsewhere.' 

The woman, who was a stranger and li;ul but just come to 
live in Dart Street, dropped another potato into the scale, 
and then glanced again at Bessy. 

' What, never been away at all from these here courts and 
alleys ? ' she rejoined. 

' Never once, I fancy,' replied Mrs Simmett. ' The 
father haven't troubled to take her, and the mother couldn't ; 



and she's too timid to stray off by herself. They've kept her 
mostly in-doors ; she's but a poor little heathen as to the 
world outside ou't.' 

' Well, I never heard of such a case,' concluded the 
woman. ' Just weigh these here taters.' 

Bessy had partly caught the conversation. She scarcely 
understood it, except that it seemed to reflect on her for not 
having seen and learnt more ; and she felt huaniliated at 
being so ignorant — so much behind other people. .As Mrs 
Simmett turned round from weighing the potatoes;, she was 
again struck with the wau, eager, up-turned face, silently 
appealing to her sympathies from its very helplessness. 

'Look here,' said she, to the group of ragged children 
gathered round, a thought occurring to her. ' Some of you 
be off to one o' them there parks, and Bessy WeUs can go 
along o' you. It's a pity the child shouldn't see the green 
grass for once, if she's hankering for't — and now that she've 
tidied herself up, and all. Our Ann shall go too. Here, 
Ann ! ' 

Ann Simmett, at play still, shrieking and laugliing, came 
splashing through the gutter at her mother's sharp CaE. 
There was no need to lu-ge them to the expedition. These 
children were only too eager to enter on any course that 
brought them change, especially if it took them away from 

With a shout and clatter, hardly waiting to comprehend 
Mrs Simmett's views, they all, more than a dozen of them, 
started away at once, ragged, untidy, half-naked as they were, 
Bessy and her crutch speeding nimbly with them. No 
especial spot, or park, had been indicated ; and, if it had 
been, they might not have known tlie most direct road to it. 
Some of them had a general idea that the parks lay westward, 
and they took what they fancied must be the right direction. 


'They'll not get lost, will they now? ' asked the woman, 
as she came out of the shed with the potatoes in her apron. 
She had no children of her own. 

' Lost ! ' retoi-ted ]\Irs Simmctt. ' Not they. The police 
'ud mighty soon bring 'era home again.' 

Through cross-cuts and by-streets went the company, 
until they emerged in the Straiul. Bessy had kept up very 
well with them until then, but now she began to feel the 
keeping-up a difficulty. As they turned in the direction of 
Charing Cross, pushing themselves rudely and noisily against 
the passengers that crowded the pavement, diving in and 
out amid the carriages in the road, under the horses and 
carts, Ikssy looked after them in dismay. They had crossed 
the street; Bessy contrived to follow them, she knew not 
how. And indeed it was a marvel that some horse or 
carriage did not knock her down. Her hip and leg pained 
her, as they always did on any unusual exertion, and she 
already felt fit to drop with fatigue. As to the rest, the 
more they pushed and incommoded people, the better they 
enjoyed it. Intent on this fun, and eager to reach the green 
fields themselves, they paid no heed to Bessy. 

' Oh please, please wait for me ! ' she called out plead- 
ingly, when they were getting on far ahead. ' Please don't 
leave me behind ! ' 

Her voice was faint, and they did not hear it : it might 
have been all the same if they had heard. Onwards tlicy 
went ; and onwards limped Bessy, trying to keep them in view. 
Breathless with the speed, confused with the noise and bustle 
of the streets, half sick with the intense heat, Bessy began 
to wish she had not come. Her longing for the green fields 
was gi'cat, but her fatigue and confusion were greater. 

Farther and farther out into the world went Bessy. The 
green fields seemed to be very, very far off", but each minute 


she thought she must get to them the next ; and she never 
doubted that her companions — out of sight long ago — had 
already reached them. She should find them sitting on the 
grass in the shade, picking the flowers. 

' If you please, ma'am,' she timidly asked of a woman who 
was standing at a street-comer, ' is it far to the green fields ? ' 

The woman stared down at Bessy as if she did not under- 
stand. She was not a pleasant-looking woman by any means 
— dirty, slatternly, bonnetless, with a white, unwholesome 
face ; evidently a relation in kind to some of the women in 
Peter's Court. 

' Up there,' she said at last, in a thick, unsteady voice, 
pointing with her hand. 

Bessy and her crutch went on, taking the way indicated. 
Just as she began wondering how much farther she could go, 
she found herself in the midst of a great bustle 3 a worse 
bustle than any she had encountered in the streets. It was, 
in fact, Waterloo Railway Station. People and luggage 
jostled each other on the platform, carriages of various kinds 
stood about. She could not see anything of her companions ; 
she could not see any green fields. Pushed about, frightened, 
unable to stand or to walk longer, she sank down against the 
wall. But the next moment a man, wheeling before him a 
truck heaped up with boxes, sternly ordered her to get up and 
go out of the way. 

She obeyed him instantly, stepping aside by the help of her 
crutch, but feeling every moment that she must drop. Paint, 
weak, hot, temfied, utterly unable to think what to do, she 
looked up at the blue sky, as her mother had taught her, and 
asked God to be pleased to help her and take care of her. 

But to get entirely ' out of the way ' was not easy. 
Trucks, boxes, hampers stood about; men were running 
everywliere; bells Avcre ringing, engines shrieking. Bessy 
knew not how to escape from it. 


Just then she saw opposite to her a huge empty carriage, 
whose door stood open. Might she not be safe from the 
crowd there ? In the moment's impulse she got into it, shut 
the door after her, and lay down in the near corner under the 
seat. Poor Bessy had no idea that she Avas doing wrong in 
getting in, or that the carriage was just going off on a journey. 
She only looked upon it as a temporary refuge from the tur- 
moil outside, and she thought if she could lie at rest a little 
while, she should feel strong enough to go on again and follow 
her companions. She was too tired to move hand or foot ; 
she lay perfectly motionless, save for her panting breath, 
enjoying the luxury of the quiet and rest. 

Some doors were banged, one after the other. A man's 
head glanced in at this carriage over the closed door ; but he 
did not see her, he supposed it to be empty ; and very gently 
the train glided out of the station. The gentle movement 
did not much trouble Bessy ; she had been in a swing once 
in Dart Street, and she thought this was like one ; but she 
was too exhausted to think much, or to get up and look. 
A few minutes, and the poor tired child was asleep. 

' Why — what on earth ? — Wlio are yo%i ? ' 

These words, in an exceedingly sui-priscd and rather 
angry tone awoke her. But how long afterwards it was, she 
never knew. The fact was, that at one of the stations down 
the line, where the train stopped, the guard had opened the 
door to let in a third-class passenger, and now saw her. Bessy 
scrambled to her feet, and picked up her crutch. It was the 
same man who had looked in before leaving Waterloo Station. 

' 'What on earth brings you here ? ' demanded the guard. 
' This here caniage was empty when we left. Have you got 
a ticket ? ' 

' Please, sir ? ' was all the answer she made in her mind's 


' Where are you going to ? ' 

' Please, sir, I want to find the green fields.' 

The guard muttered to himself that she must be a ' bora 
natural.' ' Have you got a ticket ? ' he repeated. 

' No, sir.' And Bessy said it safely, though quite ignor- 
ant of what a ticket was. ' I've only my crutch, sir, and my 

The guard frowned. ' Where did you get in ? ' 

' I don't know, sir.' 

' Why did you get in? Come ! No evasion.' 

Bessy burst into tears. She saw she had done something 
wrong and felt sorry for it, for she was a most conscientious 
girl ; and she was uoav thoroughly frightened. The guard 
began to see that she was lame. 

' If you please, sir,' she sobbed, ' the crowd pushed me, 
and I was afraid. I thought if I got in here for a minute or 
two and lay down, it would rest me ; and then I suppose I 
went to sleep.' 

* Well, this is a pretty kettle of fish ! ' cried the guard. 
' Have you any money about you to pay for it ? ' 

Bessy's eyes gazed at liini in wide surprise through her 
tears at the question. ' Oh no, sir ; I haven't any money.' 
Where do you live ? ' 

'Please, sir, it's in Peter's Court. Mother's dead.' 

' Peter's Court ! That's in London, I suppose. Well, 
you'd better come out at once if you don't want to be earned 
farther away from it. Were you a boy, I'd have gave you a 
good cuffing for what you've done ; but as you are a girl, and 
not a strong one, I'll let you off this time. But don't you go 
and try on any such game as this again.' 

He lifted her down, gave her her crutch, said a few words 
to one of the station porters, and went on with the train. 
The porter, who seemed a very indifferent, stolid kind of 


man, pointed to Bessy the way out of the station, without 
speaking. So there she was ! she knew not where, or how 
far from home and London; and — where were her com- 
panions ? 

Bessy stood in the white dusty road, and looked about 
lier. Which way was slie to take ? The afternoon sun was 
still burning fiercely, but getting lower in the sky. She felt 
stiff, and so tired still as to be hardly able to stir ; but not 
quite so exhausted as when she had entered the carriage. 
She was very hungry too, having touched nothing since her 
breakfast in the morning. And at that she had not eaten 
much ; she had been too full of pleasurable excitement. 

Ah, how like this was to many of the days of life — to a 
type of life itself! The pleasure she had anticipated so 
vividly had turned out notliing but pain. This red-letter dny 
(as it was to have been) was proving to be less good than 
those usual days of hers that had no pleasure in them. Bessy 
might have taken it as a lesson. This world has no perfect 
pleasure in it ; we must wait for that until we get to that 
other world, that has to come hereafter. 



BUT — which was the way to London ? Bessy Wells was 
walking as fast as her tired state allowed along the white 
road — had been walking so for some time, when the question 
flashed into her mind. Was she taking the way to it, or from 
it ? She never supposed but that she must walk back home : 
she had no other means of getting there : but she might be 


walking farther away from it. As she stood looking up and 
down the road, uncertain what to do, some children came up 
behind her : little girls with buff-coloured sun-bonnets, and 
school-bags in their hands, returning from afternoon school. 

' Can you please to tell me which is the way to London ? ' 
asked Bessy, as they were running past. 

The biggest of them stared at Bessy, and then biu-st into 
a laugh. The question amused her. She woidd have thought 
it impossible that anybody did not know which was the road 
to London. 

' Here's a lame girl wants to know the way to London,' 
she called out rudely to the rest. They laughed in response : 
but one of them, a pleasant-faced cliikl, came running 

• That is the way to London,' she said, pointing to the one 
they had come, the opposite one to which Bessy had been 
walking. ' It's a good way off.' 

' Thank you, said Bessy, gratefully. And she and her 
crutch turned to pursue it, the little girls standing to stare 
after her. ' What a good thing I asked ! ' thought Bessy. 

To retrace her steps was weary work ; she had really 
come a good deal out of her road. Ere long she began to 
fear that she could not go on. The hot sun blazed down 
upon her head, for the high hedges on either side were no pro- 
tection from it ; the white road sent up its glare and its dust 
to her face and eyes ; all the pain in her leg and hip had 
come back, and she was more faint than she had felt at all. 
No wonder : witli the day's exertion and the day's fast. 

' If T could but get out of the sun, and rest again for a 
little while ! ' thought she. ' And have a drink of water.' 

The words were scarcely spoken when she came to a high 
dead wall, above which clustered a mass of tall trees. Bessy 
fell against it for rest. Slie would have liked to sit down ; but 


tlie road was so dusty, and she had her best frock on. The 
sun was on her face still. 

She looked about her as she stood leaninp^ on her crutch. 
Handsome iron gates, standing open, admitted to the interior ; 
spacious grounds surrounding, no doubt, a gentleman's man- 
sion ; but the house was hidden by the towering trees and the 
thick shrubs. Bessy stood for some minutes looking in, 
yearning to be in the shade that the trees cast ; and then, in 
much hesitation, she ventured to enter. To the weary child 
it seemed like a very haven of peace and rest. 

Not up the broad, smooth, gravel path, but along the 
wide bordering grass, under the trees, went she — onwards 
and onwards gently. Oh, how beautifid it was ! The trees, 
of many shapes and sizes and heights, shaded her from the 
sultry sun, the branches waved in the air, the birds sang iu 
them, the fluttering leaves were green and lovely. She caught 
glimpses of a wide-spreading lawn, green and smooth as that 
she had seen in the picture years before. Lost in the relief 
afl'orded, she almost forgot to feel her fatigue and pain ; and 
she went unconsciously on and on, until she was at the other 
side, or back, of the mansion. And the view that burst upon 
her sight there, caused her to sink down in a trance of wonder 
and delight. 

Trees, far more beautiful, grew here : some of them seemed 
in flower, red and white. The expanse of the green grass 
lawn, sloping gently downwards, was as level as a die. 
Shrubs of many shades were grouped upon and around it ; 
flowers of the most enchanting shape and colour dotted it. 
White, pink, purple, yellow, violet, crimson — oh, more lovely 
shades and hues than Bessy had ever dreamt of! The sweet 
perfumes exhaled from these flowers came wafted to lier senses 
on the balmy air. What a contrast to the place she lived in — 
the sickening sights and odours and sounds of Peter's Court ! 


All along, at the foot of this sloping lawn, flowed a wide spark- 
ling river; boats of pleasure were sailing on it. The blue 
sky was without a cloud, the hot sun was hidden by the trees 
behind Bessy ; and she was at rest, 

' Is this heaven ? ' wondered the child. 

In her inexperience she thought it must be ; or, rather, 
in her experience — the sad experience of which her whole life 
had consisted, for she could only judge by that. Never had 
she imagined anything like this out of heaven. Half sitting, 
half lying against the trunk of one of the large trees, her 
crutch by her side, she gazed around her. 

It was not possible to see all things at once. "Where 
everything is so strangely beautiful, the eyes are bewildered 
and must needs linger. Presently she saw something else. A 
little lower down the lawn, nearer the river, under the shade 
of a large weeping elm-tree, whose graceful branches swept 
almost to the ground, sat a party round a table that had a 
white cloth on it : a gentleman, two ladies, and a little girl in 
white, "with blue ribbons in her fair hair. Glass and silver 
glittered on the table ; transparent cups and saucers stood on 
it ; luscious fruits, cakes, delicate slices of bread-and-butter. 
Bessy knew the rich ripe fruit to be strawberries ; but oh ! 
not such strawberries as were hawked about Dart Street in a 
barrow for sale, a halfpenny a leaf, small and pale. These 
strawberries were red and fresh, and very large. The ladies 
and the gentleman were talking and laughing in low, pleasant, 
merry tones; the little girl was gently swaying about a rose 
by its stem ; and Bessy, as she gazed at them, and at the 
shining things on the white-covered table, wondered whether 
aU this could be real, or whether it was only a dream. 

All in a nwment some divine instrument of music was 
softly touched, and a song rose on the air. At least to 
Bessy, poor child, it seemed divine. Looking round, she 


saw beyond the slirubs an open window of the house, through 
wliich the sounds came. Every word, spoken with reuiavk- 
ablc distinctness by the singer, reached Bessy's ear, and told 
upon her heart. 

' There is a Reaper, whose name is Death, 

And, with his sickle keen, 
He reaps the hearded grain at a breath, 
And the flowers that grow between. 

He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes, 

He kissed their drooping leaves ; 
It was for the Lord of Paradise 

He bound them in his sheaves. 

" My Lord has need of these flowrcts gay," 

Tlie Reaper said, and smiled ; 
*' Dear tokens of the earth are they, 

"Where he was once a child." 

And the mother gave, in tears and pain. 

The flowers she most did love : 
She knew she should find them all again 

In the fields of light above.' 

One who had enjoyed better advantages than Bessy 
Wells might have recognized the words for verses culled from 
a poem written by a great American poet, and called ' The 
Reaper and the Flowers.' Bessy only knew that the words 
and the music, all in harmony with the strangely beautiful 
things aroimd, seemed to strike her very heartstrings, and to 
call up feelings and thoughts that she had never in her whole 
previous life experienced. She trembled all over w'ith a kind 
of nameless ecstacy ; tears filled her eyes. 

The little girl, wdio was about Bessy's age, came running 
up the lawn towards the house, calling out to the singer ; her 
blue ribbons and her fair curls and her pretty white frock 
tloatins' behind her as she ran. 


'Rose, don't yon want any tea and strawberries? 
Mamma says — ' 

And there the young lady, being just abreast of Bessy, 
caught sight of her. Por a moment she stood still ; and then 
ran back, looking startled. 

'Oh, papa,' she whispered in a tone of fear, 'there's 
some one so strange, sitting down there under the trees. 
Perhaps it may be a robber ! ' 

' "Wliat do you say, Mina? ' asked Mr Stafford — for that 
was his name. And she repeated the words again, and. 
pointed to the place. 

Mr Stafford came forward. He might have expected to 
find some strong, burly man ; therefore, when he saw a poor 
little girl with a sad, wan, mild face, he was surprised. 

' Who are you ? ' he asked, standing before her, and 
speaking gently ; for he had a kind heart : and there Avas that 
in the child's aspect that would have told him she was a 
sufferer, apart from what the crutch, lying by, might have 

' Oh, if you please, sir, is this heaven ? * spoke Bessy, 
gazing up at him through her wet eyelashes. 

' Is it — what do you say, my little girl? ' 

' I think it must be heaven, sir.' 

' Why do you think that ? ' returned Mr Stafford, looking 
down at the curious little speaker with a half-smile. 

' Oh, sir, because of the big blue sky, and the trees, and 
the iloAVcrs ; and all the green grass, and — and the singing. 
And there's the beautifid river, sir, running along there,' she 
added, pointing to it. ' Mother used to read to me about 
the beautiful crystal river that would be in heaven ; and the 
trees to shade us, and the leaves to heal us, and the light and 
the flowers.' 

' Is your mother outside ? ' he asked, in a tone of con- 


sidcrate kindness; for the eliild's Avords impressed him 

' Mother's dead, sir. She died hnst winter.' 

Mr Stafford made no remark. He was looking at her. 

' Is it heaven, please, sir ? ' 

• This is not heaven, indeed, my little girl. Nothing in 
this world is half so beautiful as heaven will be. "Where do 
you come from ? ' he continued. ' What brings you here? ' 

Bessy told her story. She was not shy when people 
spoke kindly to her : it was only of the rough rude men and 
women that she felt any fear. With her small, pale, weary 
face lifted to the gentleman's, and her voice very faint and 
low, for in truth she was sadly exhausted, too much so to 
attempt to rise while she spoke, she told liim of the day's 
adventure. Of dressing herself in her best things, and coming 
from Peter's Court, expecting to be taken to see the green 
fields and the daisies and buttercups and other flowers— just 
to see them once — just once. And of the disappointment, 
and of the setting out with her companions and losing them 
because they went so fast ; and of the getting into the large 
carriage out of the way of the jostling crowd, and dropping 
asleep, and being brought, she knew not where, or how far 
from home ; and of setting off to walk back to London, and 
of the fatigue in the white, hot road, and of coming in at the 
open gates to sit in the shade and rest. 

' I didn't come in for harm, sir,' resumed Bessy at this 
juncture; for by this time she began dimly to understand 
that she had had no right to intrude ; and once more the tears 
rolled down her cheeks. ' I'll go out again, sir, directly ; as 
soon as ever I can get up and walk.' 

' You are lame,' he observed, glancing at the crutch. 

' Oh yes, sir,' she readily answered : as if to be lame was, 
for her, a matter of course. 


' Yfbat have you had to eat since you left your home ? ' 
he continued ; the peculiar faintness in the voice and the 
exhausted look in the face prompting the inquiry. 

'I had a piece of bread and dripping, please, sir, for 

' And nothing since ? ' 

' No, sir.' 

' What is your name ? ' 

' It's Bessy Wells, sir.' 

She rose as she gave the answer, and took up her crutch 
to depart, fearing to offend if she stayed longer. ' I hope 
you'll please to look over it, sir,' she said ; ' I didn^t know it 
was any harm, or I'd not have come in.' 

But Mr Stafford, instead of letting her go, took her 
hand and led her to the table. There he put her to sit in a 
chair, saying a few words apart to the two ladies. He had 
quickly discerned that the stray child was at least honest and 
truthfid, and superior to her apparent condition. 

' This poor little girl has come a great way, Mina ; she is 
very tired and hungry,' he observed to his young daughter. 
'Her name is Bessy, and I am sure she is a good girl. Shall 
we give her some of oiir tea ? ' 

' Oh yes, papa,' answered Mina eagerly. She had soon 
found that the stranger did not look like a ' robber.' 

' What would you like best ? ' asked Mrs Stafford, stand- 
ing up by Bessy, and speaking as pleasantly as her husband 
had spoken. 'Bread-and-butter? cake? biscuits? straw- 
berries? — which will you have? I think bread-and-butter 
would be best to begin with.' 

' If I might have a little water, please, ma'am ? ' Bessy 
ventured to suggest. ' I am so tliirsty.' 

They gave her a cupful of milk-and-water, and some of 
the nice-looking bread-and-butter, and Mina put some straw- 


lM3rric3 on her plate. But, lunigry though Bessy was, she 
could not cat much; the fasting had continued too long. 
As to the strawberries, they were more delicious, both in 
themselves and to her parched mouth, than any fruit she had 
ever tasted ; aud she ate them all. Mr and Mrs Stafford 
talked to her between whiles. She answered their questions 
freely ; and by the time tea was over, they seemed to know 
as much of her affairs as she knew. A yonng lady, dressed 
as ]\Iina was, but several years older, had come forth from the 
house to listen and look. It was she who had sung the 
beautiful song. 

' Who is it that has brought you up aud taught you ? ' 
asked Mrs Stafford. 

' It was mother, please, ma'am.' 

' She seems to have done it very well. I think she must 
have been well brought up herself.' 

' Oh yes, ma'am. Father and mother have seen better 

' It is a great pity your father cannot be in regular work,* 
remarked Mrs Stafford. 

Bessy made no answer. She would not breathe a word 
in disparagement of her father. When questioned upon the 
cause of their reduced condition, she had simply replied that 
her father was not always in w^ork. 

' How old are you, Bessy ? ' 

'Twelve last March, please, ma'am.' 

The next thought that arose to Mr and Mrs Stafford was 
— what was to be done with her ? how was she to be got 
home ? Of course, she might be sent up by a return train ; 
but — what afterwards ? 

'When you get back to the terminus, shall you know 
your way home ? ' asked Mr Stafford. 

' Back where, please, sir ? ' 


' At tlie bustling place where you got into tlie carriage 
tliis morning. That was Waterloo Station. Could you find 
your way home from thence ? ' 

' Oh no, sir. I should have to ask in the streets as I go 

]\Ir Stafford was balancing a silver fork on his finger and 
thinking. He supposed he should have to send a servant 
with her, or take her himself. It was impossible to turn this 
poor child adrift in London to run the chance of being lost. 
It might be dusk by the time she reached the terminus ; and 
besides, she might not be able to walk from thence. 

' Do you live far from the place where you found refuge 
in the carriage ? ' 

' Yes, sir, veiy far.' 

' Whereabouts in London is Peter's Court ? ' 

' I don't know, please, sir.' 

' Not know ? ' 

' We go down Dart Street to it, sir.' 

' And where is Dart Street ? ' 

' I can't tell, please, sir.' 

' You say Peter's Court is veiy ftir from the Waterloo 
Station ? ' 

Oil, a long, long way, sir,' replied Bessy, who had com- 
puted the distance by her own fatigue, ' I never could have 
thought all the world was so far. I kept thinking I could 
not go ou any more. And the people pushed me and 
frightened mc. Please, sir, perhaps there won't be so many 
crowds in the street when I go back. 

' I Avill take her myself,' said Mr Stafford to his wife. 
' And then I can see about that parcel which ought to have 
been sent yesterday from Waterloo Station.' 

Mrs Stafford called a servant, and bade her take the little 
girl in-doors to wash the dust off her face and hands. 




WHEN Bessy returned, her face refreshed, Mina was ruii- 
nins; about, eullini? some sweet flowers. Bessy asked 
permission to go close to the river and look at it before she 
lost sight of it for good. 

Standing at the foot of the garden, shielded by the shrubs, 
she gazed at it in silent delight. The ripples shone and 
sparkled in the setting sunlight, the green banks and trees on 
either side the stream seemed full of a sheltering peace that 
Bessy had never known, and only dreamt of as pertaining to 
heaven. The pretty boats glided past. From one of them 
arose the melodious sounds of some sweet instrument, softly 

' Perhaps it is a hiwp ? ' thought Bessy. ' There'll be 
harps in heaven.' 

Still she looked and listened, leaning on her crutch. It 
seemed that she could not tear herself away. Never more in 
this world, as Bessy believed, should she see so beautiful a 
scene as that. The blue evening sky above, flecked now with 
innumerable patches of gold ; the clear water winding on and 
on, Avith its look of calm peace, its murmuring softness, its 
smoothly gliding boats; and those strains of sweet music de- 
lighting the ear ! Tears, called up by feelings too deep to be 
understood or expressed, glistened on her eyelashes. 

' Can mother's river in heaven be better than this ? ' she 
asked herself in wonder. And truly, to the inexperienced 
girl who had encountered nothing in her whole life but the 
bad air and ill sights and sounds of Peter's Court, it did seem 
that this pure, lovely spot was a very Paradise. 


Mr Stafford called her. It was time to go out to catch 
the next iip-train. Mina put into her hand the flowers she 
had tied up ; for which, and for all else, Bessy spoke a few 
simple thanks as well as she knew how. 

Looking down on Bessy, as she limped along at his side 
by aid of her crutch towards the station, Mi' Stafford could 
but feel deep compassion for her. It is true he did not 
realize in his mind the one half of the misery of Peter's Court 
that she had had to exist in from year's end to year's end ; he 
could only partially picture it. ' But for the promised life in 
heaven, that Hereafter that has to come, how would the poor 
and wretched live through this life ? ' ran his thoughts. ' This 
child, at least, has been taught to look for that Life ; but I 
fear few of them, as a rule, are so taught.' And Mr Stafford 
was right. 

' You are very lame, and no doubt often in pain,' he ob- 
served to her. 

' Yes, sir,' she answered, glancing brightly up. ' But I 
shall not be lame in heaven. I shall always be seeing it now. 
I couldn't quite think before what it was like.' 

Mr Stafi'ord rather wondered at the coincidence of the 
reply, just as though she had di\ined his reflections. 

' Were you born lame, my little child ? ' 

' Please, sir, no. While mother was lying in bed wdth a 
fever, a girl came in to nurse me, and she let me fall.' 

The train came up. They got into it, and soon reached 
Waterloo Terminus. Mr Stafl'ord put the child into a Han- 
some cab, and stepped in himself. And then — and not until 
then — did it occur to him there might be a dilemma. 

' Do you know a place called Peter's Court ? ' he asked of 
the driver, 

' No, sir ; never heard of it. What district is it in ? ' 

' I cannot tell you. This child — she has lost herself away 


from home, and I am going to take licr back— says it opens 
out of a place called Dart Street.' 

'Dart Street! Peter's Court! ' repeated the man. ' I'm 
sure 1 don't know where either of them is.' 

Other cabmen did not know where : he inquired of all 
within hearing. At last one, who was driving out with a fare, 
caught the name. 

' Dart Street ! Oh, I know where that is,' he said. ' A 
regular low, wretched place, but honester than some such. 
.It's not over far.' And he gave the driver the necessary 

Dart Street was generally in a commotion towards even- 
ing, when the men were at home, congregating and smoking 
in the street, and the women turned out for air — and fre- 
quently to quarrel, and the children to fight. But on this 
particular evening the commotion was worse than usual — 
Bessy saw it at once. As to Mr Stafford, he stared about 
from one side of the cab to the other, hardly liking to find 
liimself and a cab in such a locality. Some unusual cause of 
excitement seemed to be stirring the populace. A great 
throng had collected about the archway leading into Peter's 
Court : men, women, and children had gathered there, and 
were elbowing one another ; others were running up to join 

' Take care ! take care ! ' shouted the mob, backing in 
various directions to make way for the cab — a very unusual 
sight in the narrow street — and which had come dri^'ing 
slowly down amid them. 

' Whereabouts is Peter's Court ? ' asked the driver of the 
people — who had taken refuge against the walls of the houses 
on either side. 

' Here. You be just at it. Up tliat there archway.' 

Peter's Court, including its archway, had not been bnilt 


for anything so large as a cab ;, only for mdividuals. The 
driver pulled up ; and Mr Stafford got out to lift down Eessy 
and lier crutch. 

' Do you know your way now ? ' he asked her. 

' Oh yes, sir. Please, sir, this is home.' 

But before the answer was quite spoken, the neighbours 
had descried Bessy. They came pressing up with little re- 
gard to the obstructing cab and horse, and let loose their 
tongues upon her with one accord, shouting out some import- 
ant news. It almost appeared as though &lie were the object 
of their excitement. The noise was too great for her to im- 
mediately understand what they said, but she caught its im- 
port all too soon. 

Eoger Wells had met with a serious accident. He had 
been carried home half killed. 

Mr Stafford had not intended to penetrate the imsavoury 
mysteries of Peter's Court ; but the sad distress of the 
trembling child — though with it all she was quiet — prompted 
him not to leave her to find her way to her father alone and 
to the scene that might surround him. He had begun to 
feel an interest in her, and for her sake decided to see what 
the calamity was ; and he followed her through the archway. 

Pale with an inward dread never before experienced, her 
poor little hands shaking, Bessy guided Mr Stafford to the 
right house, and up the old stairs, now crowded with people. 
On the low bedstead in the small gloomy room, for it was 
now dusk, lay Koger Wells groaning with pain, his face 
white, his eyes closed, his frame perfectly still. As many 
neighbours, men and women, as the room Avould hold, were 
collected in it. Mr Stafford inquired particulars. 

It appeared that Wells had come home at seven o'clock, 
quite sober. Pinding Bessy had not returned, he went fo 
the greengrocery shed to see what time the pleasure-party 


might be expected. There he found that the proposed jaunt 
had not taken place. It had been a mistake altogether ; no 
doubt, as he was told, an error of poor ]iessy's imagination. 
Next he asked for Bessy, and heard the tidings they had to 
tell. Bessy was lost. The rest of the boys and girls, as 
Mrs Simmett volubly explained, had got back during the 
afternoon, reporting that they had lost Bessy. "What they 
said was that Bessy had lost them — had ' gone away ' from 
them in the street. 

Roger Wells, who was really very fond of his afflicted 
child, though he did not show it much in his conduct, col- 
lected hastily what particulars he could, as to where she was 
missed, and then set off to apprise the police and to search 
for her himself, turning sharply oiit of Dart Street at head- 
long speed. At that unlucky moment, a break Avith restive 
horses came dashing along, and somehow Wells was knocked 
down and run over. Certain denizens of the locality, follow- 
ing close at his heels, interested in the search for Bessy, 
picked Wells up and carried him to his room in Peter's Court. 

' It would have been better to take him to the hospital ; 
he would have had the best of surgical skill there,' obser\'ed 
Mr Stafford, after listening to the tale. 

' Oh please, please sir, don't send him to the hospital ! ' 
burst forth Bes«y, who had caught the words ; and in her 
grievous excitement of fear she fell at ]\Ir Stafford's feet and 
put her hands upon his knees. ' I'lease let him stay here, 
sir! — please don't leave me all alone ! I can nurse him. I 
nursed mother.' 

Mr Statlbrd saw her terror. She seemed to look upon 
hospitals as places to be dreaded like prisons, instead of what 
they really are — healing mansions, that are a boon to the 
sick and helpless. 

' Well, well, my little girl, we shall see,' he said sooth- 


ingly. ' Has any doctor been here ? ' he inquired of those 

' No,' was the answer he received. ' The doctor had been 
run for, but he had not yet come.' 

Mr Stafford looked grave, as if he scarcely knew what to 
be at. Doctors, likely to attend Peter's Court, must know 
there was but small chance of receiving payment, and 
probably did not care to hurry themselves to any patient in 
it, however critical his state might be. Mr Stafford's condi- 
tion in life was so very different from that of the miserable 
people now around him, that some responsibility seemed to 
attach itself to him in this matter — and he felt it. But for 
Bessy's imploring cry, he would have taken upon himself to 
have Wells conveyed to the nearest hospital. Very consider- 
ably relieved he was to see, in the midst of his hesitation, a 
young man enter, who was e\'idently the doctor. 

'What's to do here? — who's hurt?' exclaimed Mr 
Whately ; for that was his name, and he it was who had seen 
Mrs Wells in her last illness. ' Is there such a thing a-s a 
candle in the place ? I should like to have it lighted if there 

Bessy alone knew Avhere she kept the candle and candle- 
stick. In spite of her distress and fear, she did not lose her 
capacity for usefulness, and she lighted it in a trice. 

The doctor then ordered the women to take the child and 
themselves away while he examined Wells. He sent away 
most of the men also ; a decent man whom he knew a little 
of, Richard Sale, and Mr Stafford being alone permitted to 

The first thing poor Bessy knew after that, as she sat 
below on the lowest stair, the congregated women around 
her keeping up an incessant chattering, was that Richard Sale 
touched her on the shoulder, and drew her into his room on 


the ground-floor. The man was very different from the 
general men of Peter's Court ; quiet, well-conducted, supe- 
rior. He had known sorrow in many ways ; had been reduced 
by sickness and misfortune to his present condition. His 
wife and children had died, one after anotlier ; the last of 
them, a little boy, only some three months ago. 

' It's not as bad as we feared, Bessy,' he said cheerfully ; 
' and he ' 

' Oh, and will he get well, please ? ' interi-upted Bessy, 
clasping her hands. 

' Yes, child, he'll get well : ami he is not to go to the 
hospital,' added Eichard Sale. ' The gentleman and the 
doctor are talking together about it up-stairs now. I heard 
the gentleman say that he would pay him ; and I told them 
how handy you were in the way of nursing.' 

' I should think no one was ever so good as that gentle- 
man,' CT'ied Bessy breathlessly. 

' He does seem good,' assented Richard Sale. 

Mr Stafford not only promised to pay the doctor ; he did 
more than that. "When he was saying good-bye to Bessy, he 
put some money in her hand, and said he would come again 
in a few days. In fact, Mr Stafford — brought thus into un- 
expected contact with this unwholesome place, Peter's Court, 
and Avith the poor people passing their depressing existence 
within its precincts, and with this sad accident that had sud- 
denly laid one of them helpless — felt his benevolence aroused ; 
perhaps also somewhat of his conscience. 

It was impossible to help contrasting suggestively their 
lot with his own ; and he inwardly resolved to, at least, see 
Eoger Wells through his illness. Which of course meant 
supplying Bessy with money for necessaries during its dura- 
tion. It seemed to be a duty thrown in his path. 

'Never to have had any other experience in life but what 


she has gathered in these stifling dens ! ' he exclaimed to him- 
self, his thoughts running upon Bessy, as he was piloted back 
through crowded Dart Street in the cab which had waited for 
him. ' Never to have seen the green fields, or to have tasted 
the fresh pure country air ! ' 

That night Bessy Wells had a very pleasant but curious 
dream. A neighbourly woman, one Martha Jones from a 
proximate room, came in to sit up with the sick man, for the 
poor are ever ready to help one another ; and poor, exhausted 
Bessy fell asleep on her own little bed as soon as she lay 
down. The dream was no doubt induced . by her adventures 
that day, good and bad, and especially by the sight of the 
lovely spot that she had truly taken for heaven. 

She thought she saw on the one hand the most beautiful 
garden conceivable ; more beautiful even than the one she 
had been in : for we sometimes behold things in dreams 
more vividly than we can ever see them in this world in 
reality. The grass looked dazzlingly green, the flowers were of 
the richest colours and sparkling like jewels, the trees seemed 
to be bowing their graceful branches. All round the grass 
shone a silver river, on which floated golden boats contain- 
ing people in white robes, who were singing melodiously. 
The blue sky overhead sparkled with innumerable stars : 
it was altogether most beautiful. On the other hand lay 
a wide, immense plain, dull, and gloomy, and crowded with 
miserable people, just like those tliat crowded Peter's Court : 
indeed, Bessy thought she recognisexl some of the faces. They 
were dirty, and ragge^l, and wretched, and ill, and suffering ; 
and they seemed to have no aim, no comfort, no hope. 

Bessy's heart sunk as she looked at them. Oh, it was 
sad to see ! Where were they all going to, these poor hope- 
less people ? and what was to become of them ? All at once 
Bessy discerned a figure in white, gloriously radiant, standing 


on the green lawn, and looking over the river at iliein. His 
face was full of compassion and sweetness ; his hair was 
encircled by a golden halo, and she seemed to know intui- 
tively that it was Jesus Christ. ' I am here to save them all,' 
he said to her with a loving smile, in answer to her doubts; 
' to save all who will. If they but only look to me, I will 
save them.' And Bessy's heart glowed within her at the 
words with a joyous glow that it would never experience in 
this life. He stood on the brink, and stretched forth his 
liands to them invitingly, the same winning smile of compas- 
sionate mercy turned on them from his sweet face. Bessy 
burst into tears in her excitement^ she called out, ' Oh, look to 
him ! look to him ! he will save you,' And just as she saw 
many of their heads beginning slowly to tui'a to him in 
response to his invitation, she awoke. 

The actual tears were running down her cheeks. For 
some brief moments she could not tell wlijcre she was, or what 
had happened. Then she saw the candle and the room, and 
Martha Jones dipping some rags in th« cooling lotion to put 
on her father's head ; and she knew it had bcxMi but a (beam- 

' ]^ut, oh, I think it is true ! ' said the little girl to her- 
self, in a happy tremble of hope. ' Jesus will save us all if 
we look to him — even us poor, poor people in Peter's Couit ! 
Pather, and me, and Martha Jones, and every one of us, 
God sent him down here to die that we might be saved.' 



FOE about a week Roger Wells went on very well. At the 
end of that time a change for the worse set in, and he was 


in great danger. The doctor did not think he could save him. 
Wells knew his own danger, and was afraid to die. Jenny, 
the Bible-woman, came in to talk to him and to pray by his 
bedside; but he did not seem to derive comfort. Conscience, 
aroused at last, was tormenting him with what has been well 
called its adder stings. He lay there groaning and sighing, 
terrified at the prospect opening to him. Death was at hand, 
and he was about to appear before his Maker, the creat aw- 
ful, All Mighty God, whom he had neglected. He could not 
remember to have said a prayer for many a year for either 
guidance or forgiveness. He had gone on recklessly, and 
done ill continually j just as though he had expected this 
world and his life in it to last for ever. 

He would have turned and twisted about in the bed, in 
his soid's anguish, but that the injuries arising from the ac- 
cident prevented it. lie was confined to one position, lying 
on his back, and was helpless to move, save that he could stir 
his arms. This enforced quietude of body served but to in- 
crease the restlessness of spirit, to augment its dreadful tor- 

' I'm afraid to die,' he cried out one night when he was at 
the worst, and the doctor had gone away with very faint 
hopes that Wells would be alive in the morning. ' Oh, can't 
anybody save me ? I dare not die.' 

' Fatlier,' said Bessy, with streaming eyes in her deep 
distress — and she was then alone with him, for Martha Jones 
had gone to her own room to take a bit of needful rest — 
' father, couldn't you just ask Jesus to forgive you ? Oh, if 
you would ! if you would ! ' 

'I've never done a thing for God; I've never cared to 
think of Ilim : and iiow He is going to take me, and I'm not 
ready ! ' panted Wells, his white face covered with the dew- 
drops of agony. ' What will become of me ? What shall I do ? ' 


• T?ut, father, Jesus Christ stands roady to save,' sobbed 
Bessy. • He is standing always, waiting for ns to turn to 
him. I saw him in my dream in the beautiful garden. His 
hands wore stretched out to us, and he was looking at us with 
a sniilci of welcome, inviting us to come ; asking us, as it 
seemed, to turn to him. I saw him, father.' 

Wells, aroused at last by Bessy's distress to listen to her 
words, lay staring at her, wondering whether she was dream- 
ing then. 

' Asking who ? ' 

' All of us, father — us poor people that live in Peter's 
Court, and the other poor people in all the world. Oh, 
father, he will pray to God for you, if you don't know how to 
do it yourself; and he is sure to be heard.' 

' I've been a careless sinner,' lamented Wells, throwing 
his arms up — ' a careless, wilful sinner. I've kept from pray- 
ing on pui-pose. I woiddnt pray.' 

' But it was the sinners Jesus came to save,' urged Bessy, 
her lips quivering and trembling. ' Mother used to say so. 
Jenny says so. The Bible says so.' 

Comforting words, no doubt. But Wells was not in a 
state to listen to them, or to take them to himself. His mind 
was too full of agonizing fi;ar just then to admit of even a 
ray of comfort. xVU the dread threats of denouncement that 
God has held out to sinners were beating their terrors in his 
brain and heart. I'assages of Scripture that he had learnt in 
childhood, and Hung out of mitul ever since, came back now 
with tenfold force. ' There is no peace, saith my God, to the 
wicked : ' and Wells was feeling himself most wicked amid 
the wicked in this awakening hour. 

' And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God ; 
and the books were opened : and another book was opened, 
which is the book of life : and the dead were judged out of 


those tilings Which were written in the books, according to 
their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it ; 
and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them : 
and they were judged every man according to their works. 
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was 
cast into the lake of fire.' 

According to their works. What had his works been ? 
Eoger Wells saw only too plainly now. 

' What can I do to be saved ? ' he cried out in his ex- 
tremity of anguish : as another, and probably a better, man, 
that we read of, had cried out before him. ' What can I do 
to be saved ? ' 

Bessy's tears were raining down. She wrung her hands in 
her bitter dismay and distress. 

' The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people 
that forget God,' groaned Wells, his hair rising on end with 
his mind's terror. ' Plung into hell ! and to be tormented 
day and night there for ever and ever ! ' 

' Oh, father, don't, don't ! ' sobbed Bessy. ' Jesus 
Christ is waiting to save you from it, no matter how wicked 
you have been.' 

' Don't talk foolishness, child,' rebuked Wells. ' As if 
Christ would save a sinner like me.' 

' Oil, but he does — he will ! ' answered Bessy, kneeling 
down because she could stand no longer, and putting her 
hands together in a beseeching attitude on the side of the bed. 
' He came on purpose to save sinners — on purpose, father.' 

' There's no time. I can't ask him.' 

' But there is time,' said Bessy. ' If you would but just 
ask him. You've only got to do that.' 

' 1 tell you there can't be time,' groaned Wells. ' If I'd 
wanted him to hear me now, at the last hour, I should have 
sometimes thoujrht of him before.' 


' Let me say you a hymn, fivtlier,' implored I?essy, not 
knowing what to do, and ahnost as mucli frightened as he 
was. ' I learnt it a long while ago, and used to say it to 
motlier. It ' 

' Learnt it where ? ' q^uestioned Wells, into whose mind an 
under-current of wonder was begijining to penetrate at hear- 
ing Bessy say all this, and as to when she could have pick(;d 
it up. 

'In one of my old books — "Mrs Propriety." It's my 
favourite hymn, father ; I always say it before I go to sleep. 
May I say it now ? It won't take long.' 

And, receiving no check, she stood up and began. 

' Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched, 
Weak and wounded, sick and sore ; 
Jesus ever stands to save you, 
Full of pity joined with power. 
He is able ; he is willing ; 
Doubt no more. 

Let not conscience make you linger. 

Or of fitness fondly dream ; 
All the fitness he rcquiveth 

Is, to feel your need of him. 
This he gives you : 

'Tis his Spirit's rising beam. 

Come, ye weary, heavy laden, 

Lost and ruined by the fall ; 
If you tarry till yon'i-e bettor, 

You will never come at all. 
Not the righteous, 

Sinners Jesus came to call.' 

"Wells had remained still while she recited Ihe versos. 
Perhaps they brought a dawn of comfort to his troubled soul. 
He lav looking at Bessv. 


'You hear, don't you, father? It is all true. You must go 
amid all your sin. You'll not go at all if you wait till you are 
better. If there had been no sinners, Jesus need not have 
come down to die. Father, do you know what Jenny says ? ' 

Wells made a movement of denial. 

'It was when I was telling her my dream. She says 
Jesus stands to call us all. He is always calling. There's 
not anybody that ever lived but what he calls, though so many 
do not heed it ; and she thinks this accident was meant as a 
call to you.' 

' I'm not fit,' groaned Wells. 

Bessy entwined her Aveak fingers in and out of one 
another in her distress. ' Oh, father, father, think what the 

verse says : 

" All the fitness lie i-equireth 
Is to feel your need of him." 

Don't you feel the need, father? ' 

If the man did not acknowledge that he felt the need, he 
at least did not deny it. In good truth, he felt the need of 
something with his whole heart. Bessy took the silence to 
her comfort. 

' And you know, father, it says also that it is he who gives 
us this feeling of need ; that it is his Spirit's rising beam. 
Father, father, I think it is coming to you. Oh, don't you 
let it go away again ! ' 

The latch of the door was lifted at this moment, and 
Eichard Sale came in. Bessy, who had not the strength of 
other girls, was exhausted with the scene, and began to sob 
and cry. A. woman in the next room, hearing this, came out 
and took her away. 

' We've got a bit o' supper to-night, deary ; a morsel o' 
cheese and some radishes. You shall come and eat a mouth- 


Sale sat down on one of the backless chairs; he had 
come to take his turn of tending on the sick man. When the 
mind is in that state of dire distress and tribulation which 
death, when it is feared , too surely brings, for it has been only 
too aptly called the King of Terrors, all other emotions are 
lost in it. The interests of this world take to themselves 
Mings and flee away : they are gone and past : and we are 
entering on that dread, unknown world that is to come. 
During his careless days of health, Hoger Wells would never 
have given utterance before Sale to the fears that were over- 
whelming him ; or before Bessy either, or any one else ; but 
he poured them out now. 

' It has been a'most all through the drink that I've gone 
wrong,' he groaned. ' But for that, we'd never need to have 
broke up our home and come to live in this poisonous place ; 
and perhaps the wife needn't have died. I've not been as 
bad for the drink as some are, but I've been bad enough for 
it to keep me down.' 

' It is just that — diink — that has been the bane of my 
life,' said Sale meekly. And Wells, even in his remorse of 
mind and pain of body, felt suq^rised to hear it, for he knew 
Sale was a strictly sober, well-conducted man. 

' No, I never drank myself,' said Sale, answering the 
look, ' but my father did. He was a printer in a countiy 
town, a master in a small way, anil he brought us up well for 
the first years of our lives, and educated us. Our mother 
was a religious woman, and we learnt nothing but good 
from her. These good mothers are just a blessing from 

Wells put his hand across his eyes, and for a moment 
realized the truth of the remark. He thought of what his 
Avife had been ; he thought of the words Bessy had spoken 
that night. Yes, yes ; a great blessing. But for her train- 


ing of Bessy, how would the child have learnt them, and the 
comfort they should bring ? 

' The habit grew upon my father insidiously,' went on 
Sale. ' We did not suspect it for a long while. In time it 
obtained entire hold of him, and was his ruin and his family's. 
Just as we, his sons, needed to be placed out in life, his 
home and his business Avere alike sold up ; we had to go out 
into the world to rough it, and to earn a living how we 
could. I did pretty well, though very different from what I 
had once expected to do, and earned fair wages, and then 
moved up to London here to earn better. But pretty soon 
illness overtook me. I've heard say that your Avife once had the 
same — rheumatic fever — and it left me, as it did her, with 
my hands crippled. That brought me in time to Peter's 
Court ; and its stifling atmosphere, together with their priva- 
tions, killed my wife and children one after the other.' 

' Ah,' groaned Wells. ' If a man wants to have peace 
on his deathbed, let him keep from drink. It deadens his 
feelings to all good, especially to God.' 

' To overcome is a great thing : and all can overcome if 
they will,' rejoined Sale. 'And then what a promise is 
theirs ! " To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the 
tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." ' 

Wells caught up liis breath witli a sobbing sigh. He had 
never striven to overcome ; and now the day might have gone 
by for it. Would God give him yet a little time? Ah, he 
could not tell. In his dire tribulation he lifted his pale face 
and his trembling hands, murmuring forth his first faint 
imploring prayer to the Throne of Ileaven. 




SEVERAL days passed, duriiij; wliich Roger Wells lay 
between life and death j and then he began to mend. At 
least, the doctor began to say that he might live. Through- 
out all those days — there were seven or eight of them — he 
had been expecting to die ; and oh, what a long period of 
time it had seemed to him ! As one hour struck, he did not 
know but he might die the next ; when the twilight faded at 
evening he was not sure of seeing another dawn. Never a 
minute of the time pa-ssed, but his thoughts were bent on God 
and the Great Day of Reckoning, and on what his eternal 
fate would be. In sheer despair, in the absolute necessity to 
turn somewhere for relief from his terrors, he did at last tin-n 
to the only source from whence relief could come ; and ere 
those days of peril were over, he was praying heartily and 
incessantly, ' Lord, be merciful unto me ! Heal my soul, for 
I have sinned against Thee.' 

'And God has been merciful to me,' he told himself, 
when assured that the danger of death had passed ; and the 
tears of thankfulness, that He should have been so merciful, 
ran down his wasted face. So merciful to him, the careless 


Mr Stafford had come to Peter's Court occasionally, and 
had always left money with ]^essy ; so that they were not at 
fault for means to live. During one of his inteniews with 
Wells, when he was at \hv. wf)rst, anticipating that every otlur 
moment would be his last, tlie man had poured forth all liis 
woes and his repentance to !Mr Stail'ord, striving to get a 
gleam of comfort even from liini, just as a drowning man 


catches at straws. A gentleman who was leading a good and 
thoughtful life, and was no doubt living a vast deal nearer to 
God than Wells had ever lived, might perhaps pity him, and 
pray for him, and help him. So reasoned Wells ; at least, as 
far as he was capable of reasoning ; but the turmoil of mind 
he was in did not allow much of that. 

Altogether Mr Stafford grew to like Wells, to have a good 
opinion of him as regarded the future; and he determined 
to help him in his endeavours to lead a better life, so far as 
providing him with constant employment went, and the 
chance of making his home in a more wholesome place than 
Peter's Court. How could the men who lived there, Mr 
Stafford asked himself, amid all its depressing drawbacks and 
evil examples — how could they get above its influences? 
Mr Stafford promised him permanent work in his service as 
under gardener, iinding that gardening had been the original 
occnpation Wells had been brought up to, tliough he had 
quitted it for another when he was quite a young man. 

' And you can find a lodging or a small cottage down by 
me, Wells,' remarked Mr Stafford, ' and leave this pestiferous 
court for good.' 

. Bessy clasped her hands in silent ecstasy for her father's 
sake and her own sake as she listened. To be always in that 
beautiful garden ! Why, it would seem like living in heaven ! 

' But I only offer you the place on the assumption that 
you will be steady and keep it,' explained Mr Stafford. 
' Were you to fall back into idle or otherwise bad habits, I 
should not retain you. Of course you understand that, Wells.' 

' I don't think I shall ever fall back to them, sir,' replied 
Wells with meaning emphasis, as he gazed up yearningly and 
earaestly to his benefactor. ' This has been a pretty good 
lesson to me. I've taken it to heart j and, please God, I shall 
keep it there.' 


'Yes, I tliink you will,' promptly replied Mr Stafford, 
' and I shall trust you. And now, my man, you have only 
to get strong as quickly as you can. As to you, little one,' 
he added, touching Bessy's hair, 'you will like to see the nice 
garden again, will you not ? ' 

Bessy answered not a word. Iler heart was full. 

' You can come and sit in it sometimes, you know, and 
watch your father at work, tending the flowers.' 

It seemed almost too good to be real. Bessy glanced 
up at Mr Stafl'ord through the tears of gratitude that glistened 
on her eyelashes. Something in her face caused him to look 
at it more attentively, and to hold her before him while he 
did so. 

' You are needing it, I see — the pure country air,' he 
observed to her, breaking the silence. ' Eoger Wells, the 
sooner you can come, the better for your little one. She looks 
but sickly.' 

' It's the worry about me that's been telling upon her, sir,' 
replied "Wells. ' She's such a sensitive little thing — not a 
bit like other children. And this bad, stifling place is very 
bad for her, Mr \Miatley says. We shall only be too glad 
to get out of it; and I thank you, sir, a thousand times.' 

But poor Bessy Wells was not destined to go again to 
see that beautiful garden. God was taking her to a better 
garden instead : His own true garden of heaven. 

While all the people had been busy with Eoger Wells, 
occupied with the grave doubt of whether he would recover or 
die, nobody had taken leisure to notice Bessy. The first to 
be struck with her wan face, as just stated, was Mr Stafl^ord. 
He thought it unusually pale and sickly even for hers, which 
was always so, more or less. And that same evening, three 
or four hours after Mr Stairord's departure, Bessy fainted 


away. Martha Jones, chancing to go in to see whether any- 
thing was wanted by Wells, found Bessy lying partly on her 
little bed, partly on the floor. 

' My goodness me ! why the child's got no life in her ! ' 
exclaimed Martha Jones. 

It aroused Wells, who had dozed off to sleep in his chair 
— a queer kind of reclining chair that the doctor had seat in 
for him, and which he was obliged to partly lie on. Martha 
Jones shook Bessy and sprinkled water in her face. She 
opened her eyes presently. 

' What in the world made you go and do it, child ? ' 
demanded Martha Jones. 

' Do what ? ' was the faint answer. 

' Why, drop off like that with no sense in you, and lie 
down here as if you were dead ? ' 

' I don't know,' said Bessy, ti'ying to recall how it was. 
' I felt giddy at seeing the room go round ; so I just laid my 
head upon the mattress for a minute. I don't remember after 

From that hour Bessy drooped. Drooped very rapidly. 
Mr Whatley the doctor looked at her and drew in his lips. 
He had bt;en in the liabit of seeing Bessy Avhen he came to her 
father ; and perhaps he might have been quicker to note her 
sickly face and detect what was amiss, but tha.t he was ac- 
customed to see few faces but sickly ones in Peter's Court. 

'Another victim to this pcstiferons air,' he muttered to 
himself. But he knew that even under more favourable aus- 
pices Bessy's life had not been one likely to be much pro- 

And so poor Bessy Wells was to die. Whether the fear 
and anxiety for her father had struck to her sadly weak frame, 
or the extra confin(!nient to the close sick-chamber; or 
whetlier it was not either of these causes, but that the allotted 


time had come unaitlcd, certain it was that she was passing 
away very quickly. It was she who was to die ; not her 

The doctor ditl what he coukl for licr. Mr Stafford, when 
he found how it was, felt truly sorry for the child. He brought 
her up some delicious fruit and some sweet-smelling flowers 
from his gardens ; the flowers, he told her, his dauglitcr ^lina 
had sent. Bessy was grateful for all, and very quiet and re- 
signed. She had an intuitive perception of the truth, as to her- 
self, and yet was happy. Jenny the Bible-woman came to sit 
with her every day, and Martha Jones was as good to her as 
a mother. 

Before two weeks had gone by, she was so weak as not 
to be able to do anything for herself. Martha Jones dressed 
her of a day ; aud she would sit leaning against the wall for 
support, looking up at the little 1)it of blue sky that could be 
seen from the wiiulow. Peter's Court did not know anything 
about such a luxury as an easy-chair: the curious thing sent 
in for her fatlier looked rather a difUcult one. Roger Wells, 
who had grown strangely quiet and thonghtfid as he pro- 
gressed towards recovery, would sit by for the most part in 
silence, only exchanging a word with her now and then. The 
Holy Spirit was at work in his heart. He saw all the folly of 
his late wasted life- saw that it could never be redeemed. 
This poor child, whom he had so neglected, whom he had re- 
duced to the sad strait of such a dwelling-place as Peter's 
Court, whom he had rendered motherless (for it was assuredly 
his conduct, and the privations that conduct entailed, that 
had prematurely cut oft' his wife), was now being removed 
from his sight in this world for ever. 

' Don't cry for me, father,' Bessy said one day, when she 
actually saw him bnish away some tears with the back of his 
wasted hand. ' I shall see mother, you know ; and by-and- 


by you will come to us. It will be better there tiiau here. 
There's no quarrelling up in heaven.' 

Quarrelling of some kind or another, between men, or 
women, or both, was generally going on in Peter's Court 
within Bessy's hearing ; in the adjacent rooms, or on the 
staircase, or below outside. At this moment two women 
were shrieking furiously at one another, and threatening blows 
in fierce language. 

' Could ye eat a spoonful of that milk jelly?' asked Wells. 
It was some that Jenny had brought in. 

' No, father, I can't eat it,' panted Bessy. Her breath 
was painfully short now. 

' You'll try it later, maybe,' said Wells. 

' When you are at work in that garden of Mr Stafford's, 
father, it will put you in mind of us that have gone up to that 
other beautiful one,' she went on. ' Oh, it was such a lovely 
place ! — I mean the one I saw in my dream. Mr Stafford's 
was nothing to it.' 

'Ay,' said Wells shortly. 

' I am always thinking of that garden of heaven, father, 
for it won't go out of my mind ; and of Jesus M'ho stood there 
with his arms stretched out. It soothes my pain. The other 
evening, when I had to lie down just before dusk, and nearly 
fell asleep, I forgot myself and thought I was one of the poor 
people he was beckoning to, and I put up my hands and said, 
"Lord Jesus, take me!" I seemed to see his face as plain 
as plain, and his kindly smile. Father, it will be very grand 
and good up there.' 

AYells caught up his breath with a sobbing sigh. ' Please 
God, I shall go up some time,' he thought. ' What would I 
give to have worked a Int for God ! All my long life to have 
done nothing for II im ! — to have spent it in sin and careless- 
ness ! — never to have thought of the world to come !' 


Bessy shivered slightly. The quarrelling women had 
come to blows. 

' Don't you listen to that, Bessy,' said Wells, seeing the 
shudder. 'Don't you think about 'era.' 

' It doesn't hurt me as much as it did,' replied Bessy, in 
her slow accents and faint voice. ' Since I saw Jesus stand- 
ing there to beckon to them, I think to myself that perhaj)s 
they will see him some time, and after that they will not fight 
any more.' 

Wells took a stick, by the help of which he could now 
walk tolerably, and went down-stairs. IMr Whatley ordered 
him to get out of the room when he could, though it was only 
to exchange it for the not much better outer air. lie hobbled 
on to Dart Street, and sat down on the door-step that used to 
be too high for Bessy. Thei-e he was witness to another fight 
— a short, sharp one. Between men this time. 

The weather was lowering this evening, the atmosphere 
close and murky, seeming to promise thunder. Sununer had 
been much prolonged : though September now, it was nearly 
as hot as it had been in July. IMen and women sat or stood 
about in little throngs, dirty, sullen, ragged, with uncombed 
hair and rancorous speech. There was not a bright look 
among them ; there was not a hope. The children shrieked, 
and tumbled, and leaped, and pushed, and contended, and 
s?core : and neither man nor woman reproved them To Avhat 
bourne were they travelling, this mass of unfortunate, unre- 
flecting people ? Did they ever give so much as a IhoiKjhl to 
it, or ask of their soul the question ? 


Two ill-looking men had been calling fiercely to each 
other across the narrow street. The one accused the other of 
cheating him out of a halfpenny at some game they had been 
engaged in. The language they used was enough to make a 


good man shudder. From abuse they passed to threats, and 
li-om threats to blows. 

With angry mien and inflamed faces, they mutually ad- 
vanced, throwing oft" their ragged coats as they met in the 
close hot road, and began to fight. The spectators came 
rushing up, with ready jeers and words, to urge the contest on, 
and to take sides in it, women as eagerly as men. But the 
fight, though fierce, was short ; and the combatants left off 
Avith swollen eyes and blood running down their faces. 

Wells, extremely weak and low yet from the eflect of his 
illness, leaned his aching head upon his hand and thought ot 
the The contrast, Avhich these scenes of wickedness 
and turmoil presented, to that place of blessedness and peace 
Avhich Bessy was fond of picturing. A short while ago, he 
would have made one amiil these reckless, godless men : now 
the ominous question was suggesting itself, even to him : 
whither were they going ? — what was to be the end of their 
course ? 

' Perhaps I could pluck up courage to say a word of 
warning to them before I leave for good ? ' debated Wells 
doubtfully with himself. ' Though I know it would bring 
nothino; but scoffs back again.' 



ONLY a day or two, and Bessy was sinking to her Best, 
entering into it very calmly and trustingly. When Martha 
Jones came in that morning and began to dress her, Bessy's 
arms dropped by her side. Her poor little head, unable to 
support itself, fell back on the bolster. 


* Please let me be, Mrs Jones,' slie said in a faint, plead- 
ing voice. ' Don't dress me to-day.' 

And Martha Jones saw how it was — that she would never 
again be dressed in this world, except for the grave. 

' Xo, deary,' she said, ' I'll not disturb ye to-day, if ye'd 
rather be let be. I'll just put ye comfortable a bit down there.' 

So she gently washed Bessy's face and hands, and 
smoothed back her soft brown hair : and then let her lie back 
at peace. Bessy's face had now fallen away to be very small; 
but it was always a pk-asant lace to look upon. Pleasant in 
its freshness and frankness, with the thoughtful, earnest look 
of love and gratitude shining forth from its eyes. 

They put a little water between her lips that day at times, 
but it was all she could take. She thanked them with a smile 
only : speaking seemed beyond her now. Koger Wells, 
knowing how very near the end must be, felt extremely 
restless ; now standing to look down upon her, and now 
stealing out of the room as if he could not bear the sight. 
Jenny the Bible-woman came in two or three times ; and 
Martha Jones did not quit the room at all. 

Late in the afternoon, it chanced that Mr Stafibrd found 
his way to Peter's Court to inquire after her. Martha Jones 
confronted him as he lifted the latch of the door. So very 
many of the neighbours were wanting to come in to express 
their sympathy and take a last look at the dying child, that 
Martha considered it her duty to keep most of them out. 

' How is the little girl to-day ? ' asked Mr Stafford. 

' You've just come in time to see her, sir,' was the 
whispered answer, as the woman threw wide the door. ' She 
can't last long now.' 

His entrance woke Bessy out of a doze, or semi-stupor. 
She lifted her eyes to his with a smile, and tried to put up 
her hand. 


' Vfhy, Bessy ! ' lie exclaimed, with concern, as lie laid by 
her a spray of sweet-smelling carnations — the last time he had 
brought roses. ' Are you not so well ? ' 

' I'm going to mother, sir,' she answered. ' I'm going 
into that other beautiful garden. Oh, sir — but do please 
forgive me for saying it — it is better than yours.' 

' Ay, my little girl, it is better than mine,' he said, some 
feeling or emotion bringing the tears to his eyes. ' The 
flowers in my garden will fade and die ; of many of those that 
were in bloom when you were there not a trace is left ; but 
those other flowers will live for ever, and be bright to eternal 

' And there'll be no hot, long roads to walk upon, and no 
white dust or burning sun,' added Bessy, as if her thoughts 
were back in that past day, while her eyes were fixed on the 
small corner of blue sky, seen through the open window, 

' No, no,' he answered. 

' I shall not want my crutch any more. Father can break 
it up for firewood.' 

' You'll never want it again, Bessy. There will be no 
wearing pain, or toil, or sickness there ; nothing" but glad 
peace and rest.' 

Bessy looked away from the sky and turned her eyes to 
him. ' I saw in my dream that Jesus Christ stood to beckon 
them,' she said, ' those crowds and crowds of people. Oh, 
sir, if they Avould but all turn to him — all, all. Do you think 
they will ? ' 

' Well, we must hope so, my little girl.' 

' All these poor people in Peter's Court ? If any of them 
do not — and so find themselves shut out of heaven ! ' she ex- 
claimed, with an anxiety tliat was making her restless both in 
mind and body. ' Oh, -w hat will they do — what will they 
do ? And Jesus is waiting there ! He wants them all to 


look to him ; just to look. Oacc llicy look, they can't help- 
seeing how kind he is, and that he is standinj^ always to invite 
them. If they would but think of it ! — if they did but 
know ! O, sir, if you coukl but please to tell them ! ' 

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus came forcil)ly 
into ]\Ir Stallbrd's mind with the words. ' Tliey have Moses 
and the prophets; let them liear them.' Even the chilil, 
Bessy Wells, saw clearly, in her dying hour, how few there 
are who remember, during their b-usy lifetime, to strive on to 
gain eternity. ' Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that 
leadeth unto life, and few there be that fnid it.' x\nd yet, as- 
Bessy saw in her drcaiu, the Saviour is waiting, waiting al- 
ways to help them. 

' It's a hard pull for me, sir/ said Wells nreekly, meeting 
]\Ir StaHbrd on the stairs as he was leaving. ' I shan't have 
her with mo when I come down to that tine gaulen of yours 
that she's so fond of talking of.' 

' No, you will not, my friend,' replied Mr Stafford. ' But it 
is a matter for rejoicing, not regret. She is going to a better 
garden than mine — she has just been saying so — that of our 
Lord and Master.' 

As the dusk came on, Bessy grew very restless. Jenny 
tlie Bible-woman knew, in her experience, what the restless- 
ness preceded. Bessy's mind seemed slightly to wander : 
she spoke a few sentences now and then in a weak voice. 
Martha Jones found her authority set at nought by the people 
roimd about ; tliey would come in to see the last of Bessy ; 
but Jenny begged them to let the dying child get as much 
air as she coultl, and under that consideration they were con- 
tent to be shut out. 

Though restless in frame, Bessy's mind seemed full of the 
sweetest peace. Wells sat on a chair listening to her. 

' The river's beautiful ! ' she suddenly whispered, after a 


long pause of silence, during which she had lain still : and her 
eyes were wide open now, aiid she seemed to look at her 
father. ' It shines like silver. It's the same I saw in my 
dream. What a many golden boats ! they are taking the 
people over — all those who have turned to Jesus. Oh what a 
many ! the boats start every moment, cari'ving them to tlie 
other side. Beyond, there's a bright soft light, and Jesus is 
standing there. Why, that must be tlie beautiful garden ! — 
oh, it is, it is. Father, that's the garden ! It is so glorious ! 
— and you can't see to the end. And there are the trees ; 
and the healing leaves ; and the fountain of the water of life. 
Jesus is waiting to give them the water. TFouH you read it ? ' 
- — turning her face with an eager look to the Bible-woman. 
' Mother used to read it to me.' 

Jenny kitew the part she meant, and thought she really 
wanted to hear the verses. So she opened the Bible, one she 
always carried with her on her visits, at the twenty-first 
chapter of the Revelation of St John. 

' And I saw a new heaven and a new earth ; for the first 
heaven and the first earth wx;re passed away ; and there was 
no more sea. And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, 
coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride 
adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of 
heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, 
and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, 
and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And 
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes 5 and there shall 
be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall 
there be any more pain : for the former things are passed 
away. And Ik; that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make 
all things new. And he said unto me. Write : for these 
words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is 
done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. 


I will give unto him that is catliirst of the fountain of tlie 
water of life freely. He that overcoincth sluill inherit all 
things ; and I will be his Gotl, and he shall be my son.' 

' Father, Jesus is going to give me of that water of life,' 
Bessy said, as the voice of the Bible-woman ceased ; and 
during the short interval, now piissing, she seemed quite 
collected. * He will give it to you when you come.' 

' You must ask him to give it to me, Bessy,' said tlie 
subdued man. ' There are times when I don't dare to ask 
him anything.' 

' He sees that, and he will help you to ask,' she said, 
gently shaking her head — just as though she were the learned 
teacher and her father the child to be taught. ' I haven't 
lived here long, have I, father ? and it has been only a poor 
life for me, what with my lameness and pain, and this stilling 
place, Peter's Court, and the people that have frightened me, 
and our troubles, and mother's death ; but it has not mat- 
tered a bit now it's all over, and it seems to have been such 
a little while.' 

' Ay,' put in "Wells. 

' And, father, do you know what I've thought lately since I 
lay here ? ' If I had been like that young lady in the white 
frock and blue ribbons, and lived there in Mr Stailbrd's 
beautiful garden as she does, 1 might not have thoiight so 
much of the garden I am going to — that glorious garden of 
heaven which I saw in my dream. When we areveiy poor and 
sick and unhappy here, God sees it all : be knows that we 
shall be only the happier for it in heaven.' 

' I wish I had thought a bit more of these things all 
along, Bessy, and tried to do better,' sighed Wells. 

' But you will think now, father. You'll not forget 

' No never — as I hope,' he answered. 


'You'll be in Mr Stafford's garden, and that will liclp you 
to remember, father. And there's the river, too, you know, to 
look at; though it's not like the one that has the golden boats 
on it. I — it — yes, it's there, flowing along,' she dreamily 
added, her mind falling away again into wandering. ' Listen ! 
Is that music ? It comes from the other side. And oh, I see 
mother! She is in white; she is smiling at me. Father, 
father, you'll please make haste to come there. It is better 
than this.' 

Those were the last distinct words that they caught from 
Bessy Wells. When the night air in Peter's Court was at 
the coolest, and the stars began to pale in the blue sky to give 
place to dawn, she passed away to the heavenly garden she 
had loved to dream of, where there would be neithdr sorrow 
nor crying nor any more pain, and where God Himself would 
wipe away the tears from her eyes for ever. 



' TT7ELL, she do look peaceful ! ' 

' ' The remark was made by some one of the Avomen 
of Peter's Court, several of whom had come crowding in to 
take a last look at Bessy, before she was carried away from 
their sight for ever. In an hour's time she Avould be gone, 
for this was the day of the funeral. ]\Ir Stalford had under- 
taken its expense, and arranged it all : he did not choose 
that Bessy Wells should be buried by the parish. 

The litfle coffin stood where her bed used to be. She 
lay in it, calm and still ; her brown hair smoothed under a 

AT REST. 79 

small wliite cap with a frilled border, licr hands mcctinc^ upon 
her breast, the tips of the liiig'ers touching each other. ^lar- 
tha Jones had thus placed them : she had seen the same 
attitude in the effigies of old monuments. 'The child was 
fond of praying in life,' said she, ' and maybe her spirit is 
doing it now in death. Praying for us.' It was a quaint 
fancy, but not an unpleasant one. 

Martha Jones stood near now, answering the remarks of 
the visitors, just as though she held full proprietorship of the 
dead child, and were at least her mother. Eoger Wells was 
down-stairs in Sale's room. He had chiefly made it his home 
the last day or two : the gossip and the comments wonied 

A dead child was no new thing in Peter's Court; rather 
too connnon a one indeed ; but Bessy Wells had been raised 
into greatness, and was regarded accordingly. First of all, 
the child had never been like the other children ; then there 
liad been the advent of her losing herself; next, her father's 
accident and the patronage of Mr Stafford ; and now Bessy 
Avas going to be buried grandly. Hence, Peter's Court and 
Dart Street considered that they must flock up the crazy 
stairs to take a farewell view of her. 

' Come along in, you two young stupids ! ' cried !N[rs 
Simmett in a loud uuder-tone to her daughters, Ann and 
Becca, who with unwonted awe were lingering outside the 
door. ' There's nothing to be afeard on. She looks just as 
nice as she did afore: and nicer. Her face have got more 
peace in it.' 

The two girls came stealing in, holding their breath. 
She did indeed look nice ; the face strangely peaceful, the 
shut eyelids pale and still, a faint smile upon the closed lips. 
Becca, of rather an excitable temperament, burst into loud 


'There, don't go on like that ! — a making of a noise in 
the place,' rebuked the mother. ' The child's better oft" than 
you be : anybody may see as she's at rest.' 

' Why, it seems but the t'other day we was a-burying of her 
in the gutter,' remarked the rude, broad-shouldered boy called 
Jim, who had pushed himself in because others were pushing ; 
' and now she is a-going to be buried in earnest, and have a 
black coach to carry her ! It's fine to be Bessy Wells ! But 
she warn't good for much.' 

' What a brave flower ! ' exclaimed an Irish woman, 
pointing to a beautiful white rose that lay upon Bessy's 
night-gown just above her hands. ' And who was it, then, 
that put it there, Martha Jones ? ' 

' Why, the gentleman in course,' interposed Mrs Simmett 
before anybody else could speak, alluding to Mr Stafford. 
' Him that's been doing all for 'em all along, and is a-going 
to bury her.' 

' Then there you be wrong, Mother Simmett,' said Martha 
Jones. ' This here flower was brought in just now by Richanl 
Sale, and put there. It's to be shut in with her, he said.' 

'It must have cost a sight o' pence,' remarked Ann. 
' Sixpence, I know.' 

' If not a shilling,' corrected her mother. ' He'd hardly 
get that there white rose for sixpence now, Ann. Roses is 

a'most over. And that there's a beauty. 1 say, Martha 

Jones, who's a-going to follow ? ' 

' Well, only four of us,' replied Martha Jones. ' It's too 
far for walking, you see, leastways on this here pouring wet 
day ; and the coach won't hold more than four, crowd as you 
will, with the coffin. Wells, and Sale, and me, and Jenny.' 

' What, is Sale a-going to follow ? ' resentfully spoke Mrs 
Simmett. ' I think they might ha' chose one of his betters. 
And tliat there Bible-woman ! Well ! ' 

AT REST. 81 

' I've had nought to do with it,' returned Martha Jones. 
' Jenny said she should like to go, and Sale said he should 
like to go ; and so AVells settled it : and he asked me to go — 
who have nursed her all through. I don't know what you've 
got to say again that, Mrs Sinimett. I suppose you he 
thinking you and Simmett might have been asked.' 

' All 1 say is, that there's betters and worsers amid us, and 
the worsers seems to get more respect showed 'em than the bet- 
ters,' responded Mrs Simmett. ' I'd got a old black gownd 

and bonnet, too, as would ha' served. Ikit there : don't 

let's have no worils over the poor child, lying there afore us.' 

' We shall all lie there some time,' interposed Jenny the 
Bible-woman, who had just come in, and she spoke in her 
most soothing tones. ' Couldn't we all read a lesson from 
it as we look at her, and strive for peace in our minds and 
hearts ? She was full of peace always, poor child : maybe but 
for that she'd look hardly as placid now. Oh, its a good thing 
to have loving words on one's conscience at the end, instead 
of ill-nature and strife ! ' 

' True,' shortly acquiesced Mrs Simmett. ' Goodness me, 
how you people be all a-scrooging and crushing ! — one might 
think you never saw a dead child afore! Come along. Ana 
and Becca ; we'll go. Your father'U be rampant, a minding 
the shed all this time, a-thinking I be never coming back 

Ikssy was to be buried in the churchyard near to Mr 

Staflbrd's. lie had so decided it, thinking Wells might like 

it to be so. The consciousness of having her grave near him, 

and the fact that he might often look upon it, might help to 

keep Wells steadfast to his new resolutions. Mr Stafford 

meant to have a little stone placed, with the simple insorip- 

tiou ' Bessy Wells,' her age, and the date of her dv'ath : and 

Wells might go and read it whenever he would. 



It was a very wet day, this of the funeral. EegarcUess of 
that, all the people turned out to see the sight — a real mourn- 
ing-coach was rare in Dart Street — and attended it for some 
distance. As it passed along towards the country church-yard, 
the rain pattered against the coach-windows ; the roadside 
houses looked dull and dreary. 

Poor Bessy ! But a little while before, she had journeyed 
to this self-same place ; by a different route, though, and in a 
A'ery different mannei'. The day had been hot and lovely 
then, bright with sunshine, the railway train had run smoothly 
and swiftly ; all things had been full of the bustle of life. 
But instead of finding herself in a garden full of wondrous 
beauties, at her journey's end, as she did then, her destination 
now was the gloomy garden of the dead. 

How true were the words of the clergyman — standing in 
his surplice in the wet earth at the head of the grave ; how 
fully they came home to the hearts of those around him ! ' In 
the midst of life we are in deatli.' 

Wells, the ill-doing man, with the newly awakened con- 
science, stood leaning upon Eichard Sale : he was not strong 
enough yet to support himself long. The eyes of both men 
were dry, their heads bared and bent. The Bible-woman 
had tears on her checks ; ]\Iartha Jones wept incessantly. 
Sale thought of his own children — gone before him to the 
better land; of his wife, whom trouble and sickness and 
poverty and bad air had killed. But he had not her death 
upon his conscience : it was not from lack of effort on his 
part to provide for her that she had died. Misfortune had 
been with him all his life ; misfortune was his portion still ; 
and God knew it. His crippled hands could not do much ; 
his reduced condition kept him down. Roger Wells had had 
none of those drawbacks: had he chosen to be steady, to work 
regularly, his wife might have been living yet; perhaps Bessy 

AT REST. 83 

also. How bitterly lie repented, how keenly regret was 
making itself felt within him, now as he stood, listening to 
the solcnm burial service, God alone know. Oh, that he 
might be forgiven for the past! — that he miglit ucvvy relapse 
back again ! was the undercurrent of prayer ascending incess- 
antly, even now, from his remorseful heart. 

' Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord : even so, 
saith the Spirit ; for they rest from their labours.' 

The words, falling on his ear from the low-toned voice of 
the minister, interrupted the train of thought Wells had been 
half-lost in. They comforted him exceedingly. Poor "Bessy's 
labour in this world had been too great for her years : in- 
firmity, and pain, and privation, the many ills attending her 
short hard life, had rendered it so : but she had surely died 
in the Lord, and was at rest. 

' God pardon me for all I've done ! ' breathed Wells. 
' God help me to get on in time to that same rest ! ' 

lu leaving the graveyard, some little delay occuiTed. They 
had to wait for the mourning-coach, which must needs go 
round to a publie-house to wait — after the manner of mourn- 
ing-coaches. Amid the few straggling spectators that the 
sight of the funeral had brought together that rainy day, was 
a man with a papcn- cap on his head, and some holes in his 
shabby working clothes. He came up and accosted Wells. 

' What, is it thee, mate ? ' 

Roger Wells, who in tmth had been looking at neither 
persons nor things, turned at the address and recognised Tom 
Parral ; one of his choice companions in the days gone by. 
Some little time before the period of his accident, Wells had 
lost sight of him : he disappeared from Peter's Court. 

' W'ho have you been a-burying down here? ' cpiestioned 
Farral. 'Not Bessy, surely!' he hastily added, struck by 
the expression of Wells's pale and attenuated face, and re- 


memberiiii^ that some of the lookers-on had remarked that it 
was a child's fmieral. 

' Yes, it's Bessy,' replied Wells, in his subdued tone. A 
tone that seemed to say all the spirit had gone out of liim. 

' Well, I never ! I'm sure I pity ye, mate. What did 
she die of, poor child ? ' 

' A kind of sharp decline : she was to go, I suppose. And 
where have you been off to ? — and what be you doing down 
in this part ? ' went on Wells quickly, as if he did not care to 
talk too much of Bessy. 

' I've been down here this goodish while now ; I got a 
job here,' replied Farral. ' I) lye see them there skeletons 
yonder ? ' 

Extending his hand, Wells looked in the direction it in- 
dicated, and saw in the distance a row of houses just begun 
to be built. 

' We've run up one terrace complete since I come ; and 
now we've just run up them there carcases of another,' said 
Farral. ' It's an improving neighbourhood, they say, and so 
they be buihling on it. Not much better nor lath and plaster, 
the spungy houses built now,' he added disparagingly. ' But 
that ain't no concern of us workmen. We get our money, 
and we don't want to trouble our heads further nor that.' 

' I'm glad you are getting on, Farral,' observed Wells. 
' Stick to it, man ; and make good use of your wages.' 

Farral opened his eyes wide at the piece of advice ; so 
different from what he might have expected from Wells ; and 
checked a laugh. He supposed the funeral service had in- 
duced temporary seriousness. 

' I say, have you been ill ? ' he exclaimed ; suddenly not- 
ing that Wells, in moving onwards, had to lean upon Sale's 
arm, and that he was certainly looking very thin and ill. 
' Wliy, what has been the matter. Wells ? Fever? ' 


' I mot witli an accident: got run over,' replied "Wells. 
' Good (lav, Farral : I wish you well.' 

' Stop, I say. Don't be in a hurry, man. Come into the 
Jolly Comrades and have a glass. It's close by : only just 
round the ' 

Farr.d's invitation died away upon his lips. The blnek 
coach was drawn up close to the gate ; and two women were 
getting into it. 

Farral knew tliem well : Jenny the Bible-woman, and 
Martha .Jones. Sale, supporting Wells, was making for the 
same mourning vehicle : and somehow, Farral did not care to 
press his invitation. Standing still where lie was, he watched 
the departure in silence, and then walked briskly round the 
corner to the Jolly Comrades. This was a newly-opened 
public-house, set up with the advent of the new building going 
on around, and was extensively patronised by the masons and 
other workmen. Rather too much so. 



AUTUMN, winter, spring passed away, and early summer 
had come round again. Roger Wells was in his place 
of work at Mr Statlbrd's, was well and active ; but he would 
never be the same hearty, strong man that he had been beibre 
his accident. He had gone on satisfactorily : and his master, 
by some slight word or expression, given now and again, 
some trifling act .of kindness, showed Wells that he held 
entire faith in his continuing so to go on. 

When Wells first took up his abode in the new place, he 


frequently met the man Farral. And Farral was always try- 
ing to beguile him into that seductive spot, the Jolly Com- 
rades. Wells persistently and decisively refused : it Avas easy 
for him to do so in the strength of his new resolutions and when 
his remorse for the past was yet fresh upon him : bat Farral 
could not understand it at all. In a few weeks, however. Wells 
was tempted by him no more, for Farral disappeared. He 
quarrelled with the foreman of the works, was discharged, 
and left the place. 

Wells had found lodgings in a house situated about a 
mile from Mr Stafford's, and uear to the new buildings in 
progress and to the graveyard where Eessy lay. He would 
have liked to live nearer to his place of employment, but no 
opportunity was afforded for it : in the immediate vicinity of 
Mr Stafford's there were no inferior houses. Each time 
Wells went to his work and each time he came home he had 
to pass the Jolly Comrades, but never onee did he enter it; 
no, nor did he wish to. An under-gardener at a mansion in 
the same neighbourhood shared his lodgings : an exceedingly 
steady man, named Bolter, who was fighting manfully the 
fight of life. He and Wells were good friends, spending 
their evenings at home in sociability, and keeping themselves 
aloof from the evil habits around. And those habits were 
evil enough, as regarded excess in drinking. 

' Just a little bit of perseverance, of strength in maintain- 
ing one's good resolutions, Wells, and the onward way is 
easy,' Bolter would say cheeringly to his comrade. ' All can 
steer straight on ahead if they will.' 

]^ut sunnner, it has been said, was coming in. In fact, 
had come in, for it was now the month of June ; and the 
long course of bleak weather had given place all at once to 
great warmth and brightness. With it the new buildings 
seemed to take a start : fresh houses, large and small, were 


planned and l)ogun ; and anionic: tlu; numerous staff of addi- 
tional workmen taken on, was Tom Farral. 

He soon made his arrival known to Wells. One evening 
when "Wells was working in the cottage garden, and Bolter — ' 
who had. had a touch of ague — sat on a chair against the 
wall, catching the last rays of the setting sun, and reading a 
book that lay on his knee, Farral came to the gate. It can- 
not be said that either of them was particularly glad to see 
him ; but Fan'al did not know that. 

' W^cll,' began he, leaning his arms on the top of the low 
wooden gate, 'and how goes it on with you two, mates? 
Why, what's the matter of you, looker? You look grey 
enough to frighten the crows.' 

' I'm just up from a week's illness,' replied Bolter. 
' Are you back again, Farral — to stay ? ' 

Farral nodded. ' They've had to take me on again — 
couldn't do long without me, you see,' repl'ed he, half in 
jest, half boastingly, 

' What have you been doing all the winter and sprinir, 
Fan'al?' inquired Wells, looking up from the onion l)e(l 
(which he was weeding) to speak. 

' Oh, knocking about up in London,' returned Far- 

' In work ? ' 

' Getting a job now and then. It has been confounded 
unlucky weather all along. I thought the frost and snow 
never meant to go away this year.' 

Bolter's eyes had fallen on his book again ; Wells had 
resumed his weeding. Farral was silent for a short sj)ace of 

' I say, it ain't over lively here. Come along and have a 
glass. Wells.' 

' No, thank vc, Farral.' 


' It's rare good ale they've got on tap just now at the 
Jolly Comrades. Better come. I'll stand it.' 

' FaiTal, you know it's of no use asking me. I've left off 
all that.' 

Farral slowly withdrew his arms from the gate, and went 
off with a laugh. With all his faults he was a pleasant- 
natured man, not to be put out of temper. 

But from that evening he quite persecuted Wells. Way- 
laying him at every corner, and crying up the praises of the 
tap at the Jolly Comrades. Especially he would make a 
point of rushing out of the public-house as Wells was passing 
it, lay his hands upon him, and try to make him enter. 
W^ells resisted : but, it cannot be denied that the temptation 
assailed him strongly. 

This continued. Other friends of Farral's, entering into 
the spirit of the thing, Avould add their persuasions ; some- 
times their jeers. Wells found the battle rather hard, and 
Bolter began to wonder whether he would hold out. 

' Dont give in. Wells, now that you have as good as got 
the victory,' he urged. ' It will be but a short struggle : 
they'll let you alone soon. Don't fall off again, for the love 
of heaven.' 

This was said on a Saturday night, when Wells had 
hardly known how to tear himself from them, and from the 
attractions of the Jolly Comrades. 

On the following morning, Sunday, Bolter had a slight 
return of his ague, and in the afternoon went to lie down. 
Towards sunset Wells, feeling lonely in-doors, strolled out. 
He had to go to Mr Stafford's garden to pay some few 
minutes' attention to the hothouse windows : a matter which 
had to be done on Sundays as well as week days. But it was 
hardly time yet. 

He turned into the churchyard to Bessy's grave. It was 


in a shady corner uiulor a larp;c ash tree. How was she look- 
ing now, he wondered, as he leaned against tlie tree and 
gazed down at her name; was the white rose, buried witli her, 
withered yet ? Frail and perishable alike were the rose and. 
what lay of Bessy there ; but ishc, her true self, her spirit, was 
living in the bright realms of immortality. 

'There's Farral!' exclaimed Wells to himself in vexation, 
as he left the churchyard. ' And those others be with him ! ' 

The men were standing outside the Jolly Comrades : 
Eoger Wells had to pass them on his way. It was striking 
eight, and the Jolly Comrades was opening its hospitable 
doors for the admission of guests. 

' Here comes AVells,' cried Farral to his friends, witli a 
laugh. ' I say, we'll get him in to-niglit, by hook or by 

And when Roger Wells would have passed on with a nod, 
he found he could not, for the men entirely surrounded him. 
He was going straight on then to his greenhouse windows, he 
pleaded ; was already later than he ought to be ; it was of no 
use their trying to detain him. 

It was of far less use his saying so. They did detain him : 
they would not let him go on. Powerless amid so many. 
Wells stood still, not going into the house, but no longer 
attempting to pass onwards. He meant to pass on, but he 
wanted to do it quietly and easily. He had always a faint 
feeling of shame upon him when holding out against these 
men : their ridicule tried him. 

It was not so much the bare fact of turning into the pub- 
lic-house to drink one glass that Wells was dreading: it was 
the undercurrent of conviction lying within his mind that if he 
once did so he might lapse back into his old habits. This 
feeling, making itself heard in these and similar moments, 
had served to deter him. 


' AMay, you bain't a baby, sure-ly, to be afraid of a drop o' 
beer ! ' cried Parral. 

They rang the praises of the liquor in his ears. One of 
them brought out a measure of it and held it under his nose ; 
the foaming froth almost touched his lips. Pan-al spoke in 
his most seductive tones ; the men seemed just then to have 
Wells's special benefit at heart, if he might judge by their 
soft persuasive words ; the fumes of the ale Avere to him as 
a very nosegay. And he was exceedingly thirsty. 

' Just one glass,' he said to himself, beginning to yield to 
the combined temptations. ' That can't hurt me. And then 
I shall get rid of 'em.' 

And he, most probably, would have yielded. But at that 
moment, Bolter, leaning on a stick, came into view. The 
sight of him brought Wells back to better thoughts ; restored 
to him his good resolutions. 

' Let be, mates,' he said, pushing their arms right and 
left in this renewed strength. ' I Ije ou my way to my work 
this evening, and I'm not a-going to be hindered.' 

Passing on Avith a rapid step, went he : the men let him 
go, and turned to look at Bolter. They never made free 
with Jdin. 

' Why can't you let Wells alone? ' he asked as he came 
slowly up. But all the ansAver obtained Avas a laugh from 

' Look here,' Avent on Bolter, his tone as decisiA'e a one as 
his master could luiA^e used. ' If you continue to Avorrit AVells 
in this manner, I'U find a means to have it stopped. What 
harm has he done ijon ? Can't you be contented to go to the 
bad yourselves, and spend your OAvn Avagcs in drink, and 
Avaste your lives, but you must try and drag him doAvn to it? 
Just remember Avhat the old life Avas at Peter's Court, Parral ; 
its misery, its poverty, its hopeless degradation : because 

■\VITil HIM TO THE KM). 91 

Wells lias pot into a bit hotter way down lierc, yon want to 
get him out of it. I should be ashamed to try and do a 
fellow-man deliberate liarm, I should ; if I couldn't be a 
friend to him, I'd Jiot be a foe.' 

' Oh, come, if you put it in that light, why we'll let liim 
alone,' returned Farral, to whom the words in a decree told 
home. ' Nol)ody wanted to do him harm, as you call it : 
Wells may go his own way, for us, in the future.' 

With that, he and the men turned in with one accord to 
the Jolly Comrades. And liolter felt sure that the trouble 
was over. 

]\Ieanwhile Koger Wells proceeded to the garden, and 
attended to his windows. Tliat done, he sat down on a seat 
amid the slirnbs near the river, in the tranquillity of the 
Sabbath evening. All things around him were most beauti- 
ful : beautiful as they had been that memorable time when 
poor tired Bessy sat there. The air was still and balmy, iA\e 
blue sky was dotted with white and gold ; the heat of the day 
had given place to a refreshing coolness. Tlie tender green 
of spring still lingen'd on the hedgerows and the waving 
trees; the lawn glistened with an emerald brightness j the 
clustering flowers of many hues, rejoicing the eye, exhaled 
tlieir sweet j)erfume ; and the moon was slowly rising in her 
full glory, to rival the brightness loft in the west by the 
recently-set sun. lioger Wells glanced around, and then hid 
his eyes in his hand. 

The half-acquiescence he had been ready to give to the old 
ways was surging in his heart like a committed sin. Not one 
moment had he left the men, when there rose up before him, 
he knew not how, he knew not why, all the past horror that 
had assaihxl him when he tx'lieved himself to Ik- tlying : the 
dreadful remorse for his wasted life, the awful fear of the near 
judgment of God. lie had been living it all over in remeni- 



brance during his walk, during liis brief work in the green- 
houses ; he Avas lost in it now. Was this his gratitude to 
that God who had delivered him from that terrible agony of 
remorse and dread ; who had mercifully spared his life and 
given hira time to redeem it — that at a poor bit of assailing 
temptation from thoughtless men, Aveak like himself, he must 
needs succumb ? Quite an exaggerated view Wells took of 
his weakness. Had he made himself comfortable in the Jolly 
Comrades, and swallowed half the ale in tap, he could not 
have been more bitterly repentant. He shuddered as he sat : 
and the same earnest cry went up from his heart and lips that 
had gone up so often before. 

' God pardon me ! God be pleased to keep me in the 
hour of temptation ! For Christ's sake ; for Christ's sake ! ' 

Suddenly he recalled the text he had heard that morning 
at church, from which an excellent sermon had been preached. 
The words seemed to be very applicable to him now. 

' When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, 
and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, 
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.' 

' Oh that God may not forsake me ! ' repeated Wells, 
with a sobbing sigh. ' That He may hear my cry for help, and 
keep me in the hour of temptation ! ' 

Yes ; and he believed that he should be kept. The peace- 
ful scene around him seemed to whisper a promise of it. 
Just a little brief self-denial here, a few longings overcome, a 
short persevering onwards, and the end would be gained. 
What was this fleeting term of life, compared with that which 
had to come hereafter ? — and oh what would it profit him if 
he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? One 
thought comforted him exceedingly : suggested by a brief 
word once spoken by Richard Sale in the past days — that 
each moment's temptation stood alone j he had but that one 

wnil IIIM TO THE EXl). 93 

at that self-same time to wrestle with and overcome. And 
there was always the great promise to be relied on : ' As thy 
day is, so shall thy strength be.' On that promise Wells 
put full reliance. 

' Some have gone martyrs to the stake for the Lord's 
sake : bunit alive, — flayed, — stoned,' he thought. ' And shall 
I fail for the sake of just a little self-indulgence ? Lord, be 
with me ever to give me strength ! ' 

The shades of evening drew on apace ; the first star came 
out, bright and glorious. As Wells gazed at it, he began to 
think of liessy. ^//<; was where that bright star was ; per- 
haps looking down upon him, perhaps praying for him. 

' You'll be sure to come to me later, iather,' she had said 
with her last breath. And, by God's help, so he would. 

A soft, melodious strain of music arose from a boat glid- 
ing past on the water. To Koger Wells it seemed to be as 
sweet a strain as the one Bessy had talked of lieiuing in her 
dream, and to tell as hopefully of heaven. 

He sat and listened to it, the tears filling his eyes, and a 
holy peace stealing into his whole heart. Never again, as he 
believed, should he full away : God was with him ; and would 
be with him to the end. 




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